Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fried Green Tomatoes


Last night we had our first batch of fried green tomatoes. Along with some chicken The Missus Herself did up on the grill after letting it marinate in a delicious concoction of olive oil and a bunch of other ingredients.

Now those tomatoes may look different from other fried green tomatoes you may have seen in your life. There's a reason for that. But first, I haven't gone to Wikipedia in a while for a definition, so I'll do that now.
Fried green tomatoes are a side dish usually found in the Southern United States, made from unripe (green) tomatoes coated with cornmeal and fried. Wikipedia
The reason ours look different is because The Missus Herself fries them up using a tempura batter, not cornmeal. Why, you may ask, would she do that?

Well, once upon a time I was explaining fried green tomatoes to her. Not being a cook myself, I wasn't sure what my Mom had used to make this delicacy when we were kids. I thought it was just plain old flour.

So the first time The Missus did a batch (the grocer thought she was insane when she asked for unripe tomatoes - obviously this was not in the South) she used plain old flour. While they came out okay, they weren't what Mom used to make.

So she applied logic. What does one deep fry things in when in Asia? Why tempura of course. So the next batch was done up using a tempura batter. Excellent and to this day, that's how we do fried green tomatoes at Chez Sarge.

Now about that "usually found in the Southern United States" thing, well, we had them when we were kids. Not sure where that recipe came from, but rest assured, the only South I grew up in was Southern Vermont. Ain't 'zactly Mississippi or Alabama, innit?

Perhaps the recipe came from the same grandmother who used the term "cattywampus" when we were young. My maternal grandmother was well-traveled though I don't believe she ever got further south in her life than Connecticut. Though I may be wrong. Might have been Cousin Gus. He was career Navy and he did get around, a lot. Lives out in California now-a-days. Oakland I think.

Anyhoo, it may be primarily a Southern dish, but I had it as a boy in Vermont. Then again, I never had good grits until I went to Charleston, where they make the best grits in the world. Or so a buddy of mine from South Carolina told me. I tried them in an Air Force chow hall once, the library paste we used to snack on in summer Bible school was much better.

So to my knowledge, South Carolina does have the best grits in the world.

If you're ever in Charleston, you should eat at this place...

(Warning blatant advertisement coming up. I don't care, I loved the food at this place. Besides which, I am not against someone making an honest living, especially if they're good at it!)


Oh yeah, try the grits. They're excellent!

28 comments:

  1. Being a former "Charlestonian"...actually, I still own two houses there so maybe I'm still a Charlestonian, but I digress...Hyman's is a great seafood place but it's become a touristy "must eat there" destination. That means there's usually a really long wait to get in.

    There are lots of other places to find outstanding seafood...oh, and grits too. The first three that come to mind within a few blocks of Hyman's are: The Hominy Grill (http://hominygrill.com) you MUST have the chocolate pudding for dessert, Poogan's Porch (http://www.poogansporch.com) which is also supposed to be haunted and has amazing crab cakes, and 82 Queen (http://www.82queen.com) even if it is a little pricey.

    As for the FGT, I grew up in the Portland, Oregon area and my mother used to make them all the time...fried green tomato sammiches were her favorite. She grew up on a farm in RURAL Minnesota during the depression and never went further south than Reno (an annual pilgrimage to commune with the slot machines) her entire life, so where she came up with them is beyond me. Never developed a taste for them myself, and as for the grits, why would anyone want to eat something that, outside of the south, can only be found in a feed store? :-)

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    1. We were lucky when we were in Charleston (for The Nuke's graduation from nuke school) in that it was the middle of the week when we went to Hyman's. No line, no waiting.

      Next time I get down that way, I'll need to check out those other places.

      But there was another place, away from Charleston, it was on a creek and boy oh boy, the food there was even better. (I can't recall the name of the place. The mind is the second thing to go...)

      Delete
    2. I think the First Amendment to the Internet Constitution is "If one blogs about a meal, one must post the recipe". I'm a pretty (ok Very) good cook, but I stink at tempura. And the fried green tomatoes and chicken looked delicious. Soooooo...

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    3. Hhmm, I shall have to talk with The Missus Herself and discern whether or not that information is releasable to the public.

      But I do see your point. Not being a cook myself, I don't think of such things.

      Delete
  2. Never had GFT or Grits. I do love tomatoes thou, and yes you should post the recipe for the cooking challenged folks. ;)

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    1. Sigh, two out of three readers agree...

      Where's the recipe?

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  3. If you're ever in Charleston, you should eat at this place...

    I don't have many regrets in life but one of 'em is the fact I never got down to Charleston when SN2 was stationed there (on a Boomer... the POLK) for three years. Not once. I was always "too busy" with work and the truth in that statement comes back to haunt me in unintended ways.

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    1. After I retired from the Air Force, I vowed that I would never be too busy for the kids. So far, so good.

      To be honest, I'd almost rather lose my job than miss something to do with the kids and the grands. Again, so far, so good.

      Long story short: I hear ya!

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  4. Okay....so where's the tempura batter recipe? I hate fried green tomatoes in cornmeal. It's not the "crispy - crunch" I want. I use green tomatoes with a touch of pink, which cuts down on the tartness. First I dip them in flour, then an egg and milk mix, then into PANKO which is happily CRUNCHY. Now I want to try your wife's.

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    1. Ooooh, panko, now I want to try that.

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  5. Love reading about food...thanks!

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    1. No problem Greg.

      I enjoy eating the food, then writing about it.

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  6. Where's the catfish??? Fried Green Tomatoes go with CATFISH! :-)

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    1. I'll take your word for that Cajun. After all, you're what they call an "expert."

      We didn't get catfish growing up, they don't like the cold water up here I'm guessing.

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    2. ROTF... I can't believe you didn't get any catfish while you were in Charleston! :-)

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    3. Next time brother, next time. (He said with a big grin.)

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  7. I like grits, but I've gotten a lot of weird looks when I've eaten them. Thing is, the first time I had them, when I was a Boston kid on vacation in Florida, I assumed they were like oatmeal or something - a breakfast cereal - so I put milk and sugar on them. I liked it, a lot. Then I heard the usual accompaniment might be butter or gravy? Oh, well. I'll still try to sneak a little sugar on them, although I stopped looking like a total idiot when I stopped using milk. Still don't like them with butter; I've yet to try them with gravy, but EVERYTHING is better with gravy (except ice cream) so I'm sure it will be good.

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    1. You sound like a pro at the grits thing. I was a complete neophyte about grits until I went to South Carolina.

      Really liked what this one place called "dirty grits" - grits topped with sausage and (wait for it) GRAVY!

      Wee doggies, as Jed Clampett used to say.

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  8. You damned Philistines. ANYBODY knows the ONLY way to eat grits is with LOTS of tobasco sauce mixed in together with two eggs (or more) sunny-side up so eggs/yokes are well mixed in together along w. side order of toast or biscuits..

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    1. That sounds like a superb way to have grits (anything which requires Tabasco sauce is fine in my book!)

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  9. Well, I'll amend that somewhat. In Louisiana (mainly in New Orleans) we like a breakfast/brunch dish called "Grits and Grilliades" using medallions of veal, pork, or beef tenderloin with various seasonings. (Probably as many versions as there are cooks in New Orleans. Google it for various recipes, cooking styles, etc.)

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  10. EVERYBODY knows the real name for cooked corn meal is Polenta and it's cooked mixed with a fine grade of parmigiano reggiano cheese. Philistines indeed!

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    1. You people gotta stop making me hungry.

      I weigh enough already!

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  11. Everybody/anybody:

    There is the Mason-Dixon Line, but ever hear of the "Grits Line?" The "Grits Line" is defined by a foodie in New Orleans who has a daily three hour radio food show (ONLY in New Orleans, lol )who defines it as bounded by those parts of the US where, if one goes into a restaurant for breakfast and doesn't specifically order; one automatically gets grits rather than hash-browns with ones eggs. He claims it starts at Wash, DC, skirts top of W. Va, includes southern quarter of Ohio, third of Indiana, half of Illinois, before bending down thru southern half of Missouri, all of Ark, down thru NE Tx bisecting the State and ending in Del Rio in the SW at the border. LOL Any challengers?

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    1. Sounds like an excellent definition Virgil.

      (I may have to explore those boundaries. In the interests of science, of course.)

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    2. Monday's story has been officially requested!

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    3. Oh no. Virgil, what have you done?

      (But good on you for taking up the challenge Juvat!)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)