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2 whole eggplants, stems removed, sliced vertically into 10 to 12 "fillets" (discard skinny end pieces that are mostly skin)
1 1/2 to 2 cups Jamaican Wet-Jerk Marinade (recipe follows)
1 cup crisp, fine breadcrumbs
1/2 cup crushed Nutri-Grain or other no-sugar-added corn or wheat flake cereal
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup unbleached white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
A touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten, or, for vegans, 1/3 cup plain full-fat soy milk (optional)
Cooking spray or olive oil spray
Jamaican Wet-Jerk Marinade
2 bunches scallions (15 to 20) roots and any wilted green parts removed
1/2 cup loosely packed thyme, any tough stems removed
2 to 3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and quartered
5 to 7 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup peeled, finely minced ginger
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil, such as corn, canola, or peanut
1 tablespoon freshly ground allspice
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Place the eggplant in cold salted water, weighting them down so they stay submerged. Soak for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain well, rinse, and pat dry.
Rub the Jamaican Wet-Jerk Marinade into the cut sides of the eggplant, making sure every surface is well coated. Place the jerk-rubbed eggplant in a nonreactive container with a cover or in zippered freezer bags. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. At the same time, place a baking sheet in the oven.
Remove the jerk-marinated eggplant from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
Combine the breadcrumbs, cereal flakes, flour, nutritional yeast, paprika, and salt and pepper in a large, shallow dish. Stir in the vegetable oil.
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs and 1/4 cup water, preferably spring or filtered (vegans, use rice or soy milk, omitting the eggs and water). Set aside.
Line a tray with waxed paper. Working with one eggplant slice at a time, dip the eggplant into the crumb mixture, then into the egg mixture (or soy milk), then back into the crumbs. At this point the eggplant slices will be rather huge and bristly with crumbs. (This is a somewhat messy process, especially when it comes to the egg-then-redip phase; you may have to assist with your fingertips, pressing the crumbs into any bald spots so the entire piece is coated with two layers of crumb and one of egg.) Place the crumbed piece on the prepared tray. Repeat the breading until all of the eggplant is coated.
Lower the oven temperature to 375° F.
Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Quickly but thoroughly spray it with cooking spray or oil (or give it a swipe with a
paper-towel dipped in vegetable oil.) Place the coated eggplant on the hot baking sheet. Bake until somewhat browned,
30 to 40 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully turn the slices. Return to the oven and bake until
crisp and golden, about another 25 minutes. Serve hot, preferably with Jamaican Rice and "Peas."
|Jamaican Wet-Jerk Marinade (Makes 3 to 4 cups)|
|This recipe specifies that many of the spices be freshly ground. It's more delicious done that way, but the dish will be fine if you use pre-ground spices (as long as they're reasonable fresh.) I say this because many of us, grinding all those spices is too labor intensive; however, if you have a spice mill or coffee grinder that you use specifically for that purpose, it's no big deal. If you don't have a spice mill, it means hard work with the old mortar and pestle. In the tough-to-grind category, I'd put allspice berries, cinnamon, and coriander. However… nutmeg's soft, nutlike kernel is easily ground on a nutmeg grater, or even the finest side of a conventional grater. And black pepper-do it in your peppermill. Freshly grinding these two will add something special to the jerk.