Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
This is one of the best French fry spin-offs I’ve found thanks to the incredible za’atar spice blend. It’s a Middle Eastern staple consisting of sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage and sometimes mint. You can find it at specialty food stores or sift together your own batch; it’s also great on meats and vegetables. Sweet rice flour is the best way to go. It gives a better crunch than a heavy breading and no clumping.
1 1-pound eggplant
1 cup sweet rice flour
Juice from 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon zest
2 tablespoons za’atar seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon gluten-free hot chili sauce
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
For the crema dipping sauce, whisk together sour cream and cream. Stir in hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
Cut eggplant into ½-inch rounds, then lengthwise into ½-inch strips. Soak in a large bowl of ice water. Place a lid or plate over the top of the bowl to keep eggplant submerged. Chill for at least an hour, but up to 12.
In a deep pot, pour vegetable oil to depth of 2 inches. Using a deep-fry thermometer, heat to 325°.
In the meantime, whisk together rice flour, lemon zest, za’atar, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Drain eggplant and toss to coat.
Working in batches, fry eggplant for 3-5 minutes, turning occasionally. Drain on a paper towel and season with lemon juice and another pinch of salt while eggplant is still hot. Serve immediately with spicy crema sauce.