Eggplant is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. If I don’t fancy meat for dinner, eggplant is a great filling substitute for a vegetarian meal. It has a lovely soft texture, and can be used in hundreds of different ways – in stews, casseroles, bakes like a moussaka, or simply fried or sautéed for a quick meal. The vegetable acts like a sponge, soaking up flavors. While some people think eggplant can be a little bland or soggy, that is purely because it hasn’t been cooked correctly!
I tried these delicious eggplant slices dipped in batter and shallow-fried, and I had to make them again because they were so tasty! Soft on the inside with a lovely chewy and crispy coating scented with herbs, these eggplant fritters are a wonderful vegetarian snack, or meal accompanied with rice and beans! Read on to discover my recipe.
WHAT IS THE CUISINE OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC LIKE?
The Dominican Republic occupies the east of the island Hispaniola, with Haiti on the west, and the country has a rich history of many varied cultures and influences. There are three main influences in modern Dominican cuisine:
1. Tainos – the native Hispaniolan people who lived in the Dominican Republic before the Spanish invaded in the 15th century. Their diet reflected the foods available in the natural environment, and as there weren’t a lot of animals to hunt, they ate seafood and vegetables including cassava.
2. Spanish – as a consequence of the Spanish invasion, there were more resources in the form of fresh meat from the animals they brought, fruit, and vegetables. They also brought Mediterranean and Moorish cuisine (after the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula). Most modern Dominican cooking techniques come from the Spanish.
3. African – the Spanish also brought African ingredients and slaves who used their knowledge of their native foods to influence the country’s cuisine including dishes such as mangú – a breakfast of mashed plantains served with fried eggs and Dominican salami – and stews, inspiring the country’s cherished sancocho.
The cuisine is also inspired by China, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, so you may find similarities with other dishes you know.
Due to some of these influences, and the country’s Mexican neighbors, some people assume Dominican cuisine is spicy, however, this is simply a myth. Yes, there is heat from chilies and spices in some dishes, but not as much as you may think.
DOMINICAN EGGPLANT RECIPES
Eggplant is a favorite vegetable in Dominican cooking, and it is a key ingredient in many beloved recipes. Other than this fried eggplant recipe – torrejas de berenjenas, or also known as berenjenas fritas – the vegetable is further used in Dominican eggplant and cheese casserole – pastelon de berenjena y queso – and as a traditional side dish of stewed eggplants called berenjenas asadas.
HOW DO I MAKE DOMINICAN FRIED EGGPLANT?
To make these easy and delicious eggplant fritters, you will need:
– Eggplant (naturally)
– A simple batter, like a pancake mixture
– Hot oil
Fritters always sound complicated and time-consuming to make, but I assure you, my fried eggplant slices are incredibly quick and easy.
What you need to do for my fried eggplant recipe is:
1. Wash your eggplant, and peel it if you wish. Slice it into rounds.
2. Make a quick saltwater brine – find out more about this lower down where I give more instructions – and add your eggplant slices. Leave them to soak for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make your batter by combining flour, cornstarch, oregano, salt, pepper, eggs and water or milk.
4. Drain and dry your eggplant, then dip the slices into the batter.
5. Shallow fry the slices in hot oil and drain them on a paper towel before devouring.
And it’s as easy as that!
WHY SOAK MY EGGPLANT IN SALT WATER?
Soaking sliced eggplant in salt or in saltwater brine is common practice because it removes some of the bitterness in the vegetable. You can do this in two ways:
1. A dry rub – in a sieve or colander set over a bowl, sprinkle salt on your eggplant slices, and rub it in. Leave it for half an hour and you will see that some of the bitter juices have been drawn out by the salt. Wash the eggplant clean.
2. A saltwater brine – mix together salt with a little hot water to dissolve the grains, then add enough cold water for it cool. Add enough salt for the brine to taste like seawater. Add your eggplant and soak for 30 minutes. You don’t need to wash the eggplant afterwards.
It also prevents the eggplant from being too watery, or from absorbing oil when you fry it.
This Dominican fried eggplant recipe makes a moreish crispy snack with a soft center or is perfect for a vegetarian dinner Dominican-style with rice and beans. I hope you enjoy my fried eggplant recipe and love trying new methods to cook with vegetables!
DOMINICAN FRIED EGGPLANT (TORREJAS DE BERENJENAS)
- 2 Eggplants
- ½ cup Flour
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Eggs
- 3 tablespoons Water or milk
- ½ cup Vegetable oil
- Wash the eggplants, and you can also peel them if you wish.
- Cut them into slices and soak them in cold salted water for at least 30 minutes.
- Drain all the water and pat the eggplant pieces with clean paper towels until dry.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, salt and oregano.
- Beat the eggs together and slowly add them to the flour mix, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the water or milk so the mixture is a little bit more liquid than a pancake batter.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet. There needs to be enough oil to cover one side of the eggplant slices. Be careful when cooking with hot oil and make sure not to burn yourself.
- Drop the eggplant slices into the prepared batter then fry until both sides are golden brown. Once cooked, rest on a paper towel to soak up the grease.