Gluten Free Eggplant Fries with Spicy Thai Dipping Sauce
As the editor of a magazine, I get sent all sorts of editorial pitches – story ideas I may be interested in publishing. And I read them. Some are informative, some not. Some I am so happy to have read, others not so much.
I recently received some information I was not especially glad to get but information I am sure I should have. It was about French fries and something called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a potentially toxic substance that is potentially cancer causing.
Here’s the deal – potatoes contain an amino acid called asparagine, a non-essential amino acid. When the potatoes are cooked at high temperatures (i.e. frying) sugars react with the asparagine in a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction (which probably has nothing to do with ducks). This reaction is part of what makes French fries so crispy and delicious but it also produces acrylamide. Some of the highest risk foods for acrylamide are French fries and potato chips.
This is seriously bad news if you love French fries – which I do. Sometimes I wish I didn’t read all those editorial pitches and wonder if ignorance really is bliss.
Anyway, I was making some healthy burgers out of chickpeas and thought it not such a good idea to have my healthy burgers with a side of acrylamide. But I wanted a fry-type substitute to go with my burgers. So I looked up to see how much acrylamide eggplants have. Turns out, according to the FDA website, none was detected. Cool! Fried eggplant it was.
I didn’t think fried eggplant would go all that well with ketchup so I created a lovely nut free spicy dipping sauce with Sunbutter and some Thai-inspired flavoring and enjoyed a much healthier version of burgers and fries.
- 2 (1 pound) eggplants
- 1½ cups rice flour
- 1 lime zest finely grated
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt plus more for seasoning
- Grapeseed oil for frying
- 1/3 cup creamy Sunbutter
- 1 lime juiced
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
Cut the eggplant into ½-inch thick slices, then cut the slices into ½-inch strips. Place the cut eggplant into a large bowl of ice water, put a plate on top of the eggplant to weigh it down, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Drain the eggplant pieces from the water but don’t dry them.
Combine the rice flour with the lime zest, garlic powder, and salt. Toss the damp eggplant in the flour mixture.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or other large, sturdy pot, to 325 degrees. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until warm and smooth. Put in a small serving bowl and serve with the eggplant fries.
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