Yesterday was the last day of school here in Ontario. And in spite of not having children myself, I can’t help but be excited. That childhood programming is strong. I get depressed in September and happy in June. My schedule remains the same but the end of June always has an air of freedom to it. And I’d venture to say that I’m not the only one who feels that way. It seems like there are invites to backyard BBQs and Patio shindigs arriving almost daily. Everyone is ready to party. And if you’re looking to draw up invitations of your own, have I got the dish for you. Allow me to introduce you to these Eggplant Chips with Honey and Goat Cheese.
If this were a restaurant, these Eggplant Chips are the app you would order for the table. It’s an icebreaker built for sharing. Arm all your guests with a fork and plunk this in the middle of the patio table and watch the frenzy unfold. This dish is a lot of messy fun. But what’s a few dribbles of honey between friends, right?
So what exactly are we looking at here? You’re looking at a tower of shaved eggplant fried in a light airy batter drizzled with honey and topped with goat cheese, cucumber, strawberries, and fresh mint. The result is a dish loaded with contrasting flavors and textures. You have the shatteringly crisp chips, the sweet kiss of honey, the tang from the goat cheese, and seasonal freshness from the strawberries, cucumber, and mint. I’m sure I don’t have to explain where the messy part comes in.
Now, if you’re planning on serving this to a crowd, which I totally recommend you do, this dish is a little time-sensitive. The chips need to be fresh from the oil because nothing likes to sog out as much as fried eggplant. Now, thankfully, there are elements of this dish that you can do ahead. You can slice and salt the eggplant, you can slice and prep the cucumbers and strawberries, and you can mix the dry ingredients for the batter. But everything else has to be done moments before you plan to serve the dish.
As a person who tends to favor make-ahead dishes for parties, this is not an ideal situation. I don’t like abandoning my guests to fuss in the kitchen. But this dish is so fun to eat with people that I think it’s worth the sacrifice. So here’s what I do with a dish like this.
My guests arrive to a pitcher of margaritas or sangria or whatever your favorite pitcher-friendly cocktail is. You pour them all a drink and of course, take one for yourself. Just make sure it’s your first, you have hot oil ahead of you. Then while everyone is drinking and hopefully laughing, you steal away to heat the oil, add the water to the batter ingredients, and fry. This course of action works because the eggplant fries so quickly that no one is likely to drain their glass before your finish. From there you plate and immerge a hero.
Now, that I’ve told you how to serve it, perhaps I should also tell you how to make it. Well, it’s surprisingly simple. First, you slice your eggplant. I used two Chinese eggplants because I find they tend towards the sweeter side. Lightly salt your eggplant slices and set them aside while you prep the rest of your fruit and veg. Now, it’s time to make the batter. And while you make the batter, you can start preheating your oil. Aim for 350-375°F.
The batter for the eggplant chips is a breezy 3 ingredient affair. All it is is flour, salt, and sparkling water. You can use beer if you like as well. The only important thing is to not add the liquid prematurely. Make sure your oil is up to temperature before you introduce the water. We don’t want that precious carbonation to dissipate before we have a chance to introduce our eggplant. Once the water is in the batter, grab a handful of the eggplant and plunk it into the batter. Give it a quick swish to ensure everything is coated. Then start adding the eggplant slices to the hot oil. You can add about a dozen or so chips at a time. Fry them for 2 minutes and transfer the chips to a plate lined with a paper towel. So simple.
When all of the eggplant is fried, pile into onto a plate and drizzle them with honey. Add a sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese and top with the cucumbers and strawberries. Garnish the dish with fresh mint sprigs, sesame seeds, and crushed red pepper flakes. And that really is it. It looks a lot more involved, doesn’t it? But nope. And you don’t even have to linger over hot oil for that long. How many other fried foods can boast that?
So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about these Eggplant Chips with Honey and Goat Cheese. They’re salt, sweet, tangy, crunchy – they are all the things.
Eggplant Chips with Honey and Goat Cheese
- 1 Candy Thermometer
- 1 spider or large slotted spoon
- 1 mandolin
- 2 Chinese eggplants sliced thin on a mandolin
- 5-7 strawberries sliced into medallions
- 2-3 mini cucumbers sliced thin on mandolin
- 4-6 cups neutral oil for frying
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ cups cold sparkling water **
- 3 tbsp honey
- 70g (2.5oz) goat cheese crumbled
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional
- fresh mint leaves for sprinkling
- Arrange the sliced eggplant on a large baking sheet and sprinkle them with a little salt. Set the eggplant aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.2 Chinese eggplants
- Once all the ingredients are prepped, pour the oil into a heavy bottom pot and place over high heat. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers between 350 – 375°F. ***4-6 cups neutral oil
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour and the salt. Pour in the sparkling water and whisk until no lumps remain.1¼ cups all-purpose flour, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1½ cups cold sparkling water **
- Grab a handful of the eggplant slices and place them in the batter. Give them a swish to ensure they're coated and add them one by one to the oil until you have about 12 in the pot at once. Fry until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the slices from the oil using a spider and transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Keep in a low 150° F oven. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
- Once all the eggplant is fried, arrange them on a platter to form a tower. Drizzle the eggplant with the honey and top with the goat cheese, strawberries, and cucumber. Garnish with sesame seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.5-7 strawberries, 2-3 mini cucumbers, 3 tbsp honey, 70g (2.5oz) goat cheese, 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, fresh mint leaves