I have to admit - this title makes me uncomfortable because it is quite boastful. And who am I to say that this is truly the best fried green tomato recipe the world? I really can't say that, but I can say that these are the best fried green tomatoes I have ever had, and they are the best that others have say that they have had, so right now that is enough for me!
So, what makes these fried green tomatoes so perfectly crunchy, but still firm and tomato-y on the inside? Look no further than the Japanese soul food style of tonkatsu, which actually uses a classic French technique for pan-frying but with panko bread crumbs. Now, my grandmother's traditional way of frying tomatoes in corn flour and bacon grease is still damn good, but this is heart-healthier, flavorful, and much crunchier. We like to eat these as-is, or dipped in buttermilk dressing, dressed with shrimp, or, my favorite - on a soft roll with bacon, lettuce, and good mayo.
One pound of green tomatoes gets you a lot of slices, so either half the recipe or invite a bunch of friends over to make sandwiches and drink beer.
1 lb. green tomatoes (about 6 medium), stemmed and sliced into 1/4" rounds
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce
2 c. panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
1. In a 10" cast iron skillet or other large skillet, pour in enough oil so that it is 1" deep. Heat over medium-high heat.
2. On a plate or in a soup bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and black pepper. In another soup bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard, paprika, thyme, and hot sauce. And, in a third bowl, add the bread crumbs. Line the three bowls up in an assembly-line close to your range in this order (1) flour (2) eggs, and (3) panko.
3. When the oil shimmers, you are ready to fry. Line a large plate with a couple of layers of paper towels. Take a tomato slice and coat it in flour. Shake off any excess flour, then dip the tomato in the egg mixture, making sure it is coated all over. Shake gently to remove any drips, then lay the tomato slice in the bread crumbs and press gently, then turn over to coat on the other side. Get as many bread crumbs to stick to the sides as possible.
4. Lay the tomato slice in the skillet and fry on one side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip using tongs or a spatula and fry for another two minutes. Drain on the paper towels. You can fry multiple slices at once, just fry in a single layer with enough room in between each slice so that they are not touching.
Tip: You can choose to prepare all of the tomatoes before you start frying. Just lay the pre-breaded tomatoes on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil in a single layer.
Serve hot with buttermilk range dressing, with shrimp remoulade, on a BLT, or however you like!