Fried Eggplant with Honey is a popular vegetarian tapa in Spain. These crunchy eggplants are deep-fried in olive oil and finished with a sprinkle of salt and good-quality honey.
Have you ever wondered about nice authentic vegetarian tapas? This crunchy Fried Eggplant with Honey tapa is what you are looking for! Called ‘Berenjena con Miel‘ in Spanish, this tapa originates from the south of Spain. Nowadays, you’ll find it in about every tapas bar in Spain. It’s usually served with lovely honey or darker cane syrup and a nice sprinkle of salt. A great sweet and salty dish!
Deep Frying with Olive Oil
Knowing the common eggplants contain lots of water which makes them often saggy once cooked, the only way to make them relatively firm and crisp is by coating them in a light coat of flour and breadcrumbs and frying them up at high temperatures. An essential element to deep frying the eggplant successfully is ensuring the oil is hot enough; this way, it won’t get absorbed and saggy.
Also, be careful not to add too many pieces simultaneously; you’ll end up cooling the olive oil and finish with sad greasy and soft eggplant fries. So make sure to keep the temperature of the oil between 180-190°C (300-350F°). This way, the eggplant won’t absorb much oil and will get the top layer of the fries crisp.
Yes! Olive Oil for Deep Frying!
Oh! And if you are skeptical about deep-frying with olive oil, don’t be! Olive oil is one of the most stable and resistant to long cooking periods; it loses less volatile compounds than most oils and doesn’t alter the taste of anything, as many believe. It loses its flavour with the heat. It’s the base of Spanish gastronomy; they also use it for everything from salad dressing, marinating, cooking, and deep frying! Spaniards are second on the list of countries where people live the longest… so they must do something right. If you don’t reach the smoke point over 190°C (350F°), it’s perfectly safe, if not better than any other oil.
Also, if you want to preserve the olive oil used for frying later on, filter the cooled-down oil into a coffee filter and voila! Conserve it in a cool, dark place. You’ll be able to reuse it a few times.
Some people find eggplant has a bitter taste, but I’ve never had a problem with bitterness. This unpleasant taste is mostly happening when the eggplant is too mature. Do not worry… there is a way to fix this problem. Soaking them in a salty bath for 30 minutes before you cook them will eliminate the bitterness. This step also gives an extra taste to the eggplant, but if you do not feel like waiting for an additional 30 minutes, omit this step and go right to the deep frying.
Honey or Cane Sirup
This tapa is often served with a darker, thicker syrup made out of cane sugar (molasse), it’s not actual honey, but they still call the dish “eggplants with honey”… But for this particular recipe, I brought out my top-notch honey and drizzled it over the eggplants with a sprinkle of salt. There is nothing like an excellent sweet and salty combination!
Serving with Other Tapas
You can serve these as tapas with a lovely beer, wine, o vermouth. Here are a few other tapas that could go well with this:
So let’s make some tapas!
Fried Eggplant with Honey
- 2 eggplants
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 l olive oil
- honey (to taste)
- coarse salt
- Start by cutting the eggplant into thick (1cm) sticks (with the skin) and let it soak in salty (2 tbsp salt per litre) water for 30 minutes (add a plate over to immerse them altogether).
- In a deep enough pan, heat the litre of olive oil and heat it to 180°C to 190°C (350°F to 370°F) degrees.
- Pat dry the eggplant sticks with a paper towel.
- Add the eggplant, flour and bread crumbs in a big bowl, and cover and shake the fries to cover them up.
- Check the temperature of the oil with a thermometer, or drop one fry in to see if it get fizzy.
- Add a few eggplant sticks at a time, not to cool down the oil and let it fry for about 3 to 4 minutes until golden and crisp.
- Take out the fries with a slotted spoon, sprinkle a little (fleur de sel) salt on them and reserve them on a paper towel while you cook another batch.
- Just before serving, drizzle with good quality honey.