Fried Eggplant with Spiced Cashews and Yogurt

This recipe doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does, and brilliantly at that. Part Chinese, part Middle Eastern, buttery eggplant comes together with a kick of five-spice, vinegar, and yogurt. It’s a bit of work, but totally worth the super unique result. I cribbed the original recipe from Bon Appetit and adapted it to taste.

Fried eggplant with spiced cashews and yogurt

Ingredients:

2 pounds Japanese eggplant (about 3)
salt
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1 cup full-fat Middle Eastern or Greek yogurt
Chopped green onions, for serving

1. Slice eggplant crosswise into 3-inch thick pieces. Cut pieces lengthwise into quarters. Toss eggplant in a large colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours.

2. Pulse cashews in a food processor until you have some bigger bits and some finely ground sandy bits. Toss in a small bowl with cayenne, five-spice powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

3. Evenly scatter sugar into a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula to help it melt evenly, until melted and light amber. While stirring, gradually add vinegar; the caramel will sputter, but keep stirring until it smooths back out. Let cool to thicken.

4. Pour in oil to come 1 inch up sides of a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high.

5. While oil is heating, drain eggplants and pat dry. Dredge in rice flour in a large bowl, shaking off excess.

6 .Working in batches, fry eggplants, turning occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain temperature, until cooked through and lightly golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

7. Spread some yogurt on a serving platter and place eggplants over the top. Drizzle with black vinegar caramel, spiced cashews, and green onions.

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