1 cup flour
1-1/4 cups white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium eggplants, thinly sliced into rounds
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Place flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk wine into flour, beating until batter is smooth and the consistency of thin pancake batter, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 200°. Salt or freeze eggplant slices to lessen bitterness and remove excess moisture (see left) [see below]. Pour vegetable oil into a heavy skillet to a depth of 2". Heat oil to 375° or until it sizzles when you drop in a little batter. (If oil isn't hot enough, eggplant will absorb too much of it.)
Dip eggplant slices in batter, then drop into oil -- as many at a time as you can without crowding the pan. Fry until golden, cooking on both sides, then drain on paper towels. Keep fried slices warm in oven.
When all eggplant slices are cooked, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
To Salt or Not to Salt?
Salting sliced eggplant for half an hour or so leaches out some of the chemical called solanine, found in the eggplant's flesh.
Sprinkle salt (coarse salt is best because less is absorbed) onto one side of the sliced eggplant. Leave it for 30 minutes, then brush it off with a damp paper towel. There's also a saltless way of obtaining the same results: Slice eggplant, arrange slices on a plate, and put it in the freezer for about four hours. When the slices thaw, just press out a lot of the moisture with the palm of your hand. This releases most of the bitterness. Is either process really necessary? If you're frying or grilling, both of which tend to concentrate the eggplant's bitter character, then yes, we recommend it. In stews and purées, however, bitterness shouldn't be a problem.
serves 4 - 6