Advising on recipes of a culture other than your own is always going to be a risky business. I recently watched in horror a video by an American lady showing TikTok users how to make ‘hot’ or ‘British tea’. The video went viral, with Brits outraged as their beloved cuppa – a national institution – was reduced to a pale (literally!) imitation. It was a catalogue of errors: water warmed in the microwave, milk added before the teabag, and sugar freely poured in (not spooned) for wince-inducing measure. Michelle did her best bless her, but feathers were surely ruffled!
So, excuse my trepidation in wanting to explore a classic dish from the American South: fried green tomatoes. If I mess up, forgive me. My intention is only to share a lip-smacking way of using up this most common late-summer glut. Like any dish that people rave over, there are plenty of takes on what you would imagine to be a fairly straightforward concept. The recipe below is a fairly standard but no less tasty way of frying up green tomatoes. You could easily add your own spin on it.
Glut-Busting Green Tomato Recipe
At this time of year it’s a race to ripen the final tomato trusses. Will they or won’t they colour up before the shutters come down on the growing season? Who cares when you can use up firm, green tomatoes in a most delicious way: fried green tomatoes.
Frying under-ripe tomatoes turns them from let-down to delicacy. The secret lies in a dusting of cornmeal that, once fried, gives these little rounds of goodness their golden hue and irresistible crispy coating. For the benefit of British readers, cornmeal can be found in the ‘world foods’ section of the supermarket, or look in a health food shop. Polenta is basically cornmeal, so use this if it’s easier to source.
The recipe specifically calls for green, under-ripe tomatoes. That’s because unripe tomatoes are still quite firm in texture. Just-ripe tomatoes might work but they mustn’t be at all soft or juicy or they will simply collapse into a mush the moment they hit the pan.
How to Make Fried Green Tomatoes
Gather your ingredients together. You will need:
- 3 standard-sized green tomatoes
- 65g (1/2 cup) plain flour
- 65g (1/2 cup) cornmeal or polenta
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable or sunflower oil
Place half of the flour into one bowl and the beaten eggs in another. Mix together the remaining flour and cornmeal and place into a third bowl. Add a generous pinch of cayenne pepper to the cornmeal mix if you want a little extra bite. Prepare the tomatoes by cutting them into half centimetre (quarter inch) thick slices then season both sides with salt and pepper.
Great, you’re now ready to dust, dip and coat! Begin by dusting each tomato slice in flour. Shake off the excess then dip into the egg. Let any excess egg drip off and then thoroughly coat in the cornmeal mix.
Pour about half a centimetre (a quarter inch) of oil into a frying pan or large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Bring the oil up to a very high heat before you begin frying. This prevents the tomatoes from soaking up too much of the oil and becoming soggy. Once hot, carefully lower in the tomato slices and fry until golden brown on the underside. Turn them over to cook the other side. Each side should take about two to three minutes. Don’t crowd the pan – fry in batches, removing the cooked slices to a plate lined with kitchen towel kept warm in a low oven.
Delicious Ways to Eat Fried Green Tomatoes
Serve the fried tomatoes hot as an accompaniment to other Southern foods such as fried chicken or shrimp. Alternatively enjoy them as a very moreish snack, served with a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of hot sauce, and dipped into either a tangy salsa or a creamy remoulade sauce.