Rounds of eggplants, dipped in cornmeal or flour, fried until crisp yet soft then drizzled with dark molasses. It's a classic Spanish appetizer, and extremely delicious!
Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. No need to get out the ruler though. Place them in a bag or shallow dish and pour over the milk. Leave to soak for half an hour. This draws out any bitterness but also helps the eggplant soak up less oil.
In a large enameled cast-iron skillet, heat about 1/3 inch of oil over a medium-high heat. Add one or two sprigs of rosemary for the first minute of heating, then remove them. This helps to flavour the oil. The oil is ready to fry when a flick of the cornmeal sizzles. On a plate, spread some of the cornmeal. Remove the eggplant from the milk, shaking off any excess liquid. Dredge in the cornmeal, pressing it to coat. Working in batches, fry the eggplant, turning a few times, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer the eggplant to a paper towel–lined baking sheet or plate and season with flaky salt.
When all of the eggplant rounds are cooked and crispy, place them on a serving plate and drizzle with the molasses/ miel de caña and sprinkle over chopped rosemary.
The nutritional values will include the milk that is mostly removed before frying. It also doesn't include added salt as that will be up to you how much to add.
Miel de caña - sugar cane honey - is a deep brown syrup with a slightly sharp savory-sweet taste. Of course use ordinary molasses - and indeed good honey - but get the Spanish version if you see it. It is a relatively unrefined sweetener (only evaporation to process it) used to top sweet flans, in biscuits (cookies) and is ridiculously good drizzled over popcorn.
I tried several flours to make these fried eggplants - cornmeal, plain flour and almond flour. The almond tended to burn quite quickly and didn't readily adhere to the slices. Flour worked very well - and is the most common coating. But we really like the extra texture from the cornmeal. In the UK it can be easier to buy fine polenta. It is pretty much the same product, but polenta is almost always a bit coarser, and yellow from yellow corn. Both cornmeal and polenta are made with dried corn.