Fried eggplant with honey is a melody of contrasts. There is a sweet and savory flavor contrast… There is also a contrast of textures with the crispiness of the eggplant being juxtaposed by the ooziness of the honey. It is precisely these contrasts that make this tapa a marvelous addition to any entertaining menu. There are many variations of this recipe and some call for the eggplant to be dipped in a batter. In the recipe below, the eggplant is just dredged in flour before being fried. While I will never say no to batter-dipped eggplant, I find that just dredging it in flour really allows the delicate flavors of the honey and eggplant to stand out. The recipe also calls for soaking the eggplant in milk for at least six hours. This not only helps soften and moisten the eggplant, it also prevents it from absorbing too much oil when it is being cooked.
1 large eggplant (about 1.25 pounds)
2 cups milk
2/3 cup honey, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
½ cup flour
2-3 cups or canola grape seed oil
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then cut each half into slices about 1/3 inch thick.
In a bowl, mix 1 cup of milk, 1/3 cup of honey, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the sliced eggplants and weigh down with a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about six hours.
When ready to cook, place the oil in a medium skillet and heat it to medium-high. In a plate or shallow bowl, mix the flour and the remaining salt and pepper. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.
Drain the eggplant and dredge in the flour. In batches, fry the eggplant for about two minutes on each side or until they are crisp and golden in color. Transfer the eggplant onto the cooling and allow the excess oil to drain. Once all the eggplant has been fried, arrange on a platter and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.