There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.
– O. Henry
Despite the fact that I am Irish, I have always grown up with Thanksgiving as my Mam hails from Nebraska. While we never went all out for 4th of July, Thanksgiving was a sight to behold. Mam would have us on clean-up duty the entire week ahead of time, and, while we cleaned, she would bake and prepare tons of delicious food like her almond slices (to die for!), salad jelly (jello–which is one of my favourite Thanksgiving foods), and, particularly when we were younger, her homemade brown bread. By Thanksgiving day we’d be in a state of restless anticipation.
Besides my own family, which numbers nine, over the years we’ve had several different guests, but some of the consistent ones include two of my Mam’s best friends in Ireland and my Dad’s cousin who is like an aunt to us kids. When the guests would arrive we’d usher them into the sitting room to chat with my dad and whatever kids were free. Meanwhile, another troupe would be busy laying the table and fighting over whether the napkins should be placed in the glass or around the cutlery/silverware. Mam was like a general with her orders: “Potatoes are done. Put them in this bowl!” and “Grab that platter of garlic bread and bring it into the guests.” Of course she also ordered, “Did you see if anyone wants tea? Someone put on the kettle!”
And then, the bell would ring. Dinner was served. It was so hard holding back to let the guests go first, but somehow we managed. Then, we would have whispered squabbles for the best seats only to be told by Mam that “X sits there, Y sits there and Z, you’re up by Dad” defeating our best laid plans.
Besides stuffing and salad jelly, my favourite part was always after dessert. We’d be in the kitchen, the plates sitting where they’d been left, a huge pot of steaming tea on the table, and listening to the older people talking about past events, famous Irish figures, and who such and such person was in our family. It was so interesting and insightful. I would hang onto their every word, and try to stay my tongue (a hard thing for me to do!) so they would not lose their train of thought.
Even today, my favourite things about Thanksgiving are are listening to the conversations and watching how people will interact. I love all the food, but people are ultimately what make Thanksgiving. Gathering together to say “thank you” is amazing. We should be thankful. I am grateful for being exposed to this holiday my entire life and being able to challenge the above quote as Thanksgiving is no longer just an “American” holiday amongst expats here in Korea (or in Ireland for that matter!). It’s a time to be thankful and thankfulness is something everyone appreciates.
This year, my friends and I got together (around 30 of us) and celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday. It was great fun. We gathered at one of the local bars, and everyone contributed something from turkey to pumpkin pie to sweet potato casserole. My own contributions included a broccoli casserole (will be up before Christmas) and the following recipe. I used a Korean brand of bread crumbs which are quite crunchy. They are perfect for frying and I strongly believe that they are the breadcrumbs used on my favourite takeaway fried chicken! So yes, these breadcrumbs get a strong recommendation and big thumbs up from me!
Breaded Fried Aubergine/Eggplant With A Kick
- 3 small aubergine/ eggplants or 1.5 large aubergine/ eggplant, washed and dried.
- ¼ cup flour
- 1.5 cup Ottogi Breadcrumbs*
- 1.5 tsp, chili flakes, divided**
- 3 eggs
- ¾ tsp dried parsley
- grapeseed or olive oil for frying
- Slice the aubergine/eggplant into rounds, around 1 cm thick. Lay out flat on a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Once beads of water have formed on the aubergine, wash thoroughly and dry. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients, minus the oil: put the flour in a bowl, set aside. Put the bread crumbs and half the chili flakes (¾ tsp) in another bowl, stir and set aside. Crack the eggs into a third bowl, whisk in the remaining chili flakes, parsley and some seasoning.
- Dip each dried aubergine/eggplant round into flour, dust it off and dip into the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs.
- Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan on medium heat. Once hot, add around ¼ cup of oil (you may need to add more oil as you go along, so keep it handy).
- Once the oil is hot, add a few slices of eggplant to the oil and let them cook until browned on one side, and then turn over and brown the other side. This takes around 2-3minutes per side. You can see the bottom browning, so turn when it’s golden.
- Replenish oil as needed.
- Place on paper towel and season lightly with salt, if needed.
- You can serve either hot or cold. They go really well with hummus or as a side dish to Creamy Tomato Chicken Pasta Bake.
*Ottogi Breadcrumbs is a Korean brand of breadcrumbs that are very dry and crunchy. Panko would probably be similar. For Irish and British readers, I do NOT recommend using the breadcrumbs you find in the supermarket refrigerator or at your local butchers. I would recommend heading to your nearest Korean or Asian Market. For Irish readers, Hansung on Great Strand Street, Dublin 1 should be able to help you.
**These are slightly spicy, so if you don’t like spicy things, I would leave out the chili flakes that go into the breadcrumbs and only use it in the egg mixture.