Fried Eggplant with Honey is a popular vegetarian tapa in Spain. Nice crunchy eggplants deep fried in olive oil and finished up with a sprinkle of salt and good quality honey.
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 originate from the south of Spain. Nowadays, you’ll find it in about every tapas bar in Spain. It’s usually served with a nice honey or a darker cane syrup and a nice sprinkle of salt. A great sweet and salty dish!
Golden rule of deep frying with olive oil
Knowing the common eggplants contains 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 fry them up at high temperature. An important element to deep frying successfully the eggplant is to assure yourself the oil is hot enough, this way it won’t get absorbed and saggy. Also be careful not to add too many pieces at the same time, you’ll end up cooling the olive oil and finish up 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 just get the top layer of the fries crisp.
Yes! Olive oil for deep frying!
Oh! and if you are one of those sceptic 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 like many believes. It loses its flavor with the heat. It’s the base of Spanish gastronomy, they use is for everything from salad dressing, marinating, cooking, and deep frying also! Spaniards are second on the list of country where people live the longest… so they must do something right. As long as 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, simply 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 found eggplant have a bitter taste but personally 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 is also giving an extra taste to the eggplant but if you do not feel like waiting for an extra 30 minutes, just 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 an 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 a nice sweet and salty combination!
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 (2tbsp salt per litre) water for 30 minutes (add a plate over to immerse them completely).
- In a deep enough pan, heat up the litre of olive oil and heat it up to 180°C to 190°C (350°F to 370°F) degrees.
- Pat dry the eggplants sticks with a paper towel.
- In a big bowl, add the eggplant, flour and bread crumbs, 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 the 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 on a paper towel while you cook an other batch.
- Just before serving, drizzle with a good quality honey.