Salsa Orly (see recipe below)
1 large eggplant (aubergine)
1 cup virgin Spanish olive oil (for frying)*
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt or sea salt
2 to 3 ounces sugar cane honey (miel de cana)**
* Olive oil is an integral part of Spanish cooking. Almost every dish includes olive oil in the list of ingredients. Olive oil is ideal for frying, as long as it is used at the proper temperature and not over-heated.
** Molasses in Spanish is called melaza, or sometimes asmiel (which is honey). This recipe traditionally uses Miel de Cana, or literally "sugar cane honey," and is very typical of the regions of Granada and Malaga, where this recipe originated. If miel de cana is not available in your area, you can substitute molasses or your favorite honey. Our host Juan Antonio, uses Salsa Orly as his fry coating, but other places may just dredge the eggplant through some flour a method is known as a la andaluza. If sugar cane molasses is not available in your area, you can substitute regular molasses, your favorite honey, or maple syrup.
Prepare the Salsa Orly; set aside.
Wash and dry the eggplant, cut off the stalk end, and slice into rounds approximately 1/2-inch thick.
Place the eggplant slices on a large cookie sheet or platter. Lightly salt the eggplant slices. Turn over and lightly salt the other side. Allow to sit for 1 hour to draw the moisture from the eggplant. Pat dry with a paper towel.
Dip each salted and dried eggplant slices in the prepared Salsa Orly just before frying in the olive oil.
Frying the Eggplant Slices: In a heavy frying pan or skillet, heat olive oil (approximately 2 inches) over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 355 degrees F. on your internal thermometer (so the eggplant slices sizzle when they touch the hot oil). TIP: Use a small piece of bread. Place it in the hot oil and see if it turns golden brown in less than a minute. If it does, the oil is ready.
This is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. To learn more about this excellent thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined: Thermapen Thermometer.
Working in small batches, add 4 to 5 batter-coated eggplant slices at a time to the hot oil, turning them with a slotted spoon until they are lightly browned, cooking about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet or the oil temperature will fall and the eggplant will absorb too much oil.
Remove fried eggplant slices from the oil and place on paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
To serve, drizzle "miel de cana" (sugar cane molasses) or honey over the top and then serve hot. These are best eaten as soon as they are done, but they are also very good reheated in the oven.
Salsa Orly Batter Recipe:
Salsa Orly is a thick batter used for coating and deep frying. Our host, Juan Antonio, uses this Salsa Orly recipe as his fry coating, but other places may just dredge the eggplant through some flour, a method is known as a la andaluza.
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup beer
1 cup sparkling water
Pinch of saffron (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the baking power, flour, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the egg. Stir in the baking powder/flour mixture.
Add the beer and sparkling water, stirring until smooth. The combination of beer and sparkling water in the mixture creates a sort of yeast that causes the batter to rise. If desired, stir in a pinch of saffron to the mixture. Let rest in a cool place, approximately 20 minutes, until the mixture rises.
Any excess batter can be stored in a glass or plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.