Dinner Deconstructed: Eggplant Parmigiana

Life has been crazy lately, to say the least. They say that junior year will do that to you though, so I suppose it’s to be expected. AP’s, PSAT, SAT I’s and II’s, ACT, college visits have all been done amidst the chaos that is high school. But it’s great; I love this insanity (kind of, mostly). One thing that I have missed however, is cooking. Not even baking necessarily, as is to be expected of one who has often found her identity as a baker. But cooking. I’ve never really classified myself as a chef. I mean, honestly, if I’m left to my own devices, I’ll likely resort to munchies (case in point: I just ate a handful of gluten-free crackers for lunch out of laziness). But when I feel inspired, it’s totally different.

A couple weeks ago, I went on a college visit to Case Western. The visit itself was blase; yet another college visit after which I left feeling neither more nor less fulfilled.

But on the way up, we stopped in Columbus for dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant (in America), Akai Hana. While waiting for a table, my dad and I went for a walk around the plaza and visited Tensuke Market. It’s a tiny little Japanese grocery, but I love everything about it; I love how the vegetables are so neatly packaged. I love how the unblemished kabocha are nicely sliced into halves and wrapped. I love that there are umeboshi plums and an entire refrigerated case dedicated to miso. But I digress. Back to my inspiration: the vegetables. Japanese Eggplants, to be specific. As a kid, I always hated eggplant. It was mushy and generally gross. Having somewhat grown up since then, I have found an extreme happiness in the refinery that is a Japanese eggplant.

They aren’t tough and gross as the ones found in American grocery stores can be. Instead, they cook up silky smooth without a single hint of the typical bitterness. For another, they’re only about 1.5-2″ in diameter which means really adorable rounds! And with that in mind, I created this baby eggplant parmigiana.

Baby Eggplant Parmigiana
Serves 2 or 1
1 Japanese Eggplant
1 egg white, whipped till frothy
1/2 c Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 t oregano, basil, garlic powder, black pepper
salt, if desired

1. Slice the eggplant very thinly- approximately 1/2 cm. This will give you super crispy-tender results.
2. Add herbs/salt/pepper to panko crumbs.
3. Dip the slices in egg white and then in panko crumbs, coating well.
4. In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat up 1/2″ or less of oil (these don’t need much; 1/2″ is really pushing it.)
5. When a small crumb of panko dropped into the oil begins to sizzle, place the rounds in, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
6. Let the rounds simmer until golden brown; then remove and drain.

Serve with a crusty baguette, homemade tomato sauce, and a balsamic-laced spinach salad topped with a parmesan crisp.


2 responses

  1. Delicious! This looks like the perfect appetizer or even side dish.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:33 am

  2. Mmmmm! Delicious! I made these tonight and they were wonderful. And sure enough, you were right, the Japanese eggplants don’t have those bitter undertones. Great stuff; I’ll be making these again.

    May 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm

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