"Please don't fry us, please don't fry us," they whispered to me from their shelf in the refrigerator. And that's where I confess that I might not be quite right because frankly, anyone who thinks vegetables are talking to her when she opens the refrigerator door is either A.) tripping out on LSD, or B.) cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Having never tried LSD, the default is option B. But you say I'm crazy like it's a bad thing.
I didn't want to fry the green tomatoes because I always want to fry the green tomatoes. Isn't that what one does with green tomatoes (other than make chow chow or salsa verde)? But this time, I couldn't stop thinking of the fried green tomatoes I had had on my first trip to New Orleans several years ago. I was at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen on Charles St. and I still remember every last bite of the appetizer that eclipsed all others that night--three beautifully seasoned and fried slabs of green tomato layered with crabmeat and remoulade sauce.
I can make remoulade sauce fairly easily and often do. It's one of those concoctions I try to always have on hand in my refrigerator because it elevates everything it's served with. It can make old shoe leather taste great. When remoulade accompanies crabmeat or shrimp, it is a miraculous thing. What's not to like about seafood adorned in a rich sauce of mayonnaise, capers, gherkins, Creole mustard, a little dill and some scallions, heightened by fresh lemon juice and a little cayenne? I never tire of if.
Fried green tomatoes, slightly acidic, tender and silky inside, crispy and salty outside, are one of the simplest of things, yet hold great mystery and potential. Typically fried in seasoned cornmeal, they seem almost provencial, country fare. They are undoubtedly delicious. But coat them in egg and panko, fry them until beautifully golden and combine them with a seafood remoulade sauce, and this dish is not only gorgeous on the plate--pale green contrasted with pale pink--but the ingredients are the perfect foil for each other in texture and flavor.
Here's how I did it:
Fried Green Tomato Napoleons with Shrimp in Remoulade Sauce
8 oz. jumbo lump crab meat or peeled, tailed and deveined cooked cocktail shrimp
1 cup Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows)
2 medium green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (you should have about 12 slices)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko
oil for frying
chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
drained nonpareil capers, for garnish
1.) Mix together the seafood and the Remoulade Sauce and set aside and keep cold until ready to assemble.
2.) Dip green tomatoe slices in beaten egg, then coat both sides in panko.
3.) Heat about 1/4 inch of oil on medium heat in a skillet until rippling, then fry green tomato slices on both sides until golden brown.
4.) Drain on paper towels and cool slightly.
5.) To serve, place one fried green tomato layer on plate, spoon a little seafood/remoulade sauce on the fried tomato and repeat two more layers. Build four appetizers this way.
6.) Drizzle a little sauce around the plate and garnish with parsley and capers. Serves four.
Remoulade Sauce: Mix together well 1 cup mayonnaise (I like to use Duke's for remoulade), 1 Tbs. nonpareil capers, drained, 1 Tbs. minced gherkins or cornichons, 1 Tbs. freshly minced parsley, 1 Tbs. finely chopped scallions, 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 tsp. Creole or coarse Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. anchovy paste, 1/2 tsp. dill, 1/8 tsp. cayenne, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Makes about 1 1/4 cups sauce. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
What you can drink with this little nosh is a crisp white wine like a pinot gris, or if you prefer a red, a sangiovese or a beaujolais. Or, you can do as I did in New Orleans all those years ago: have a Cajun Martini. The recipe below is as close a reconstruction as I can manage of the one I had at K-Paul's.
Swirl a little dry vermouth in a chilled martini glass to coat the sides. Pour in 2 oz. chilled pepper vodka. Garnish with a pickled jalapeno, a cornichon and some pickled merliton, skewered together on a long toothpick. Makes one drink.