This crispy dish symbolizes warmth and good times. When you have green tomatoes in your garden or see them at your local market pick up a few and fry them up! Fried green tomatoes make a great appetizer or side dish!
Fried green tomatoes are a simple dish where unripe green tomatoes are sliced thinly and battered before being deep fried. Fried green tomatoes are now synonymous with American Southern cooking, one can find fried green tomatoes on many restaurant menus, and many people in the South cook the dish at home, but the dish did not originate in the American South. Robert F. Moss, author of The Fried Green Tomato Swindle and Other Southern Culinary Adventures, says that fried green tomatoes first appeared in Northeastern and Midwestern cookbooks during the 19th century, like the 1873 Presbyterian Cookbook and the 1877 Buckeye Cookbook. Recipes for fried green tomatoes were also found in Jewish cookbooks during the early parts of the 20th century like Florence Kreisler Greenbaum’s International Jewish Cookbook, written in 1919.
Fried green tomatoes became extremely popular in the American South largely because of the movie by the same name. Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 movie based on a novel by Fannie Flagg called Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The Whistle Stop Cafe from Fannie Flagg’s novel was based on actual place, her aunt’s Irondale Cafe in Irondale, Alabama. Fannie Flagg did eat fried green tomatoes at this cafe as a child, but the staff there has admitted that the fried green tomatoes were not a large part of the menu until after the movie came out.
My first time eating fried green tomatoes was during the first year my husband and I were dating. He took me to South Carolina and we were visiting Charleston. One day during our vacation we borrowed this small motor boat from his uncle and rode around the water. By noon we were hungry and we spotted this restaurant by the shore. There were plenty of spots for boats to dock. We parked the boat and headed to the restaurant. The menu consisted of mainly Southern fare.
My future husband wanted an appetizer and suggested fried green tomatoes. The only thing I knew about fried green tomatoes was that there was a movie with that name. He was excited that I had never tried them before and ordered the dish. Apparently, fried green tomatoes was a favorite food of his and his mother’s, so he wanted to share it with me as well. A few minutes later a red plate with crispy fried green tomatoes was placed in front of me. I put the crunchy, greasy, circle into my mouth and was mesmerized by its flavor. It was tangy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I knew that I had discovered something precious.
I was spending time with my mother-in-law and someone mentioned the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. I admitted to her that I had never seen it before and she was eager to show it to me. She said the little town where the Whistle Stop Cafe resided in was just like the town that her grandmother had lived and where my mother-in-law had visited a great deal when she was young. Thus she tended to get nostalgic whenever she watched the movie. I was entranced by this movie starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary Louise Parker. I found it a heartwarming movie centered around female empowerment and friendship set in Alabama.
One cannot watch a movie like Fried Green Tomatoes and not make the dish too. Unfortunately, all the tomatoes I had grown were already red. Thus when the local farmer’s market had green tomatoes I jumped at the chance to make the fried dish. I cut the tomatoes, dredged them, fried them, and served them with Remoulade. My husband and my in-laws loved them. I hope your family enjoys this recipe as well!
Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
Yields 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Beer Pairing Suggestion: Lager
Wine Pairing Suggestion: Chardonnay
3 unripe green tomatoes
vegetable oil for frying
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup cornmeal
Serve with: Remoulade sauce* (recipe below) and lemon wedges
Cut the green tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
Now create the dredging station.
On a plate or a shallow pie dish mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika.
Prepare the wet mixture by place the buttermilk and egg into a bowl and whisking them together.
Place the cornmeal on another plate or shallow pie dish.
To dredge the tomatoes you must take a tomato slice and dip each side in the flour mixture.
Next, you need to dunk the tomato slice into the buttermilk mixture.
Lastly, you must coat the tomato slice in cornmeal.
Place on a rack or cutting board.
Repeat with remaining tomato slices.
Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat.
The oil will be ready when it sizzles immediately after sprinkling flour into it.
Carefully add 4 to 5 tomato slices to the oil.
Fry for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Place fried tomatoes onto a plate lined with paper towels.
Fry the remaining slices.
Serve warm with Remoulade sauce* (recipe below).
Fried green tomatoes are a great appetizer or side dish to dishes like Chicken and Dumplings or Baby Back Ribs.
Make sure not to use tomatillos. Tomatillos and green tomatoes are different!
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.
This is a great way to use up any green tomatoes in your garden!
If you do not have a garden of tomatoes, visit your local farmer’s market. They sometimes have green tomatoes!
Remoulade Sauce Recipe*
Yields 1/2 cup of sauce
Prep Time: 3 minutes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons parsley leaves chopped
Place all the ingredients into your serving dish.
Mix together until well-incorporated.
Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Chill until you are ready to serve with the fried green tomatoes.
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