For many years I did a weekly cooking show at a farmers market in an African American community that served not only the neighbors but also the many immigrant communities that call Milwaukee home. I developed and demonstrated recipes each week that focused on seasonal produce. I employed the spices and cooking techniques of various cuisines to demonstrate the range of the food and gave out samples to the customers. The shows were popular and enjoyed a small but loyal fan-following. Besides free samples, the shoppers seemed genuinely excited and curious to taste foods from around the world.
That all changed the day I did a show demonstrating how to make fried green tomatoes. My one-time fans—the ones with Southern roots who considered themselves soul food aficionados, teased me endlessly about my choice of ingredients, cooking techniques and general credibility as a Southern food cooking instructor.
I reminded them that #1: the Indians, Koreans and all the other ethnic groups whose cuisines I borrowed from week-to-week seemed genuinely pleased that I had embraced the food of their native land, and they complimented me on my recipes. What happened to their Southern manners? #2: My connections were every bit as strong as theirs. Due to my father, I grew up watching Hee-Haw and listening to WMAQ. His childhood was spent in Appalachia, and when his family moved to central Illinois, the school held him back a year because the teacher couldn’t understand his thick accent.
Authenticity as a Southerner aside, in the end, they relented. You can’t argue with a tasty fried green tomato. This recipe has a coating which is crisp and savory not thick and eggy. In addition to flavor, it keeps oil use and mess to a minimum because the tomatoes are pan not deep fried.
- 6 medium green tomatoes, cored and sliced into ½ inch slices
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- ⅔ cup fine ground cornmeal
- 1 tsp regular salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ cup yogurt or cultured *buttermilk
- ½ cup oil
- lemon for garnish
- SIMPLE REMOULADE SAUCE
- 2 Tbsp good mayonnaise
- 1 tsp chili sauce
- Prepare the tomatoes.
- Mix the flour, cornmeal and spices in a large bowl.
- Pour yogurt or buttermilk into a separate bowl.
- Dip each tomato slice in the buttermilk or yogurt to coat. Next, dredge the slice in the cornmeal mixture coating both sides well.
- Once all the tomatoes are coated, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat and add oil.
- When the oil becomes hot, pan fry the tomatoes in batches. Fry until golden brown—about 1½ - 2 minutes on each side. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
- Make the remoulade dipping sauce by combining the mayo and chili sauce.
- Serve fried tomato slices with lemon wedges and remoulade.
Cooking & Eating with Kids: Fried green tomatoes are a treat of early fall when the green ones must be harvested before the frost comes and turns them to mush. I serve them as part of meal I like to call “Southern Sides” –cheesy grits and Southern-inspired vegetable side dishes. No meat. It’s a kid favorite. Leftover fried green tomatoes also make great sandwiches.
I have my kids harvest the tomatoes, measure and mix the coating and then do all of the breading. My kids are particularly fond of making cultured “buttermilk.”
Preserve It: Enjoy them now as there is absolutely no way to preserve the green tomatoes for frying later. I’ve tried with zero success. If you have a way, please let me know because I miss them November to June and so will you once you have tried them.