Chinese eggplant is longer and thinner than the normal American eggplant that most people are used to seeing in the grocery store. That shape makes Chinese eggplant the perfect vegetable to make these warm, bite-sized appetizers.
I usually make these when we are entertaining since just 2 eggplants yield 25-30 individual appetizers. They are easy to make and can even be made ahead of time to avoid rushing around as your guests arrive. Even people who don’t think they like eggplant seem to love these!
- 8 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup peanut oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
- 2 medium Chinese (or Japanese) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 12 small cherry tomatoes, oven-dried
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (optional)
1. To oven dried tomatoes, cut each tomato in half, toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and cook for 30-40 minutes in a 275 degree oven.
2. Cut the mozzarella into small pieces and place on a paper towel to drain.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat peanut oil in a skillet until the temperature is 360 degrees. Place the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and the eggs in 2 separate shallow bowls. Place the panko in a third shallow bowl. Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, then dip into the beaten eggs and finally into the panko.
4. Fry the eggplant slices in batches of 6 pieces until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack set over a cookie sheet. Repeat until all slices have been fried.
5. Top each slice with 1 piece of mozzarella and a slice of oven-dried tomato. (The crisps may be prepared to this point and left at room temperature up to 3 hours.) Bake in the oven until the cheese melts, 5 minutes. Top each with oregano (optional) and serve hot.
Here’s how they looked just before entering the oven…
The source of this recipe is Martha Stewart’s hor d’oeuvres Handbook.