Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Buttermilk Sauce

Two things come to mind when I hear Fried Green Tomatoes – the movie and the south. Inspired by the book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flag, the 1991 comedy-drama film was born. The premise is about a housewife who is unhappy with her life becomes friends with an old lady in a nursing home and is captivated by the tales she tells of people she used to know.

Alternatively I associate fried green tomatoes as a time-honored southern dish. End of harvest tomatoes which are unripened are turned into crispy fried bites of goodness. They are customarily dipped in egg, coated in a mixture of cornmeal and flour then fried golden brown and sprinkled with salt. The process of frying brings out a hint of sweetness, and they become tart and tangy. The flavor is distinct and when mixed with the crispy fried breading it is very appealing and unique.

Since viewing the film several years ago, I have long been fascinated by these green fried disks of southern hospitality. Being a bay area native and resident, fried green tomatoes are not as prevalent as they are in the south region of the country. There is a relatively new dining destination in downtown Oakland called Pican which is a taste of the south in the bay area. I took a client out to lunch there a few months ago and saw the fried green tomatoes on the menu. This was a must try. They were crispy, sweet yet tangy and the sauce was a Cajun spicy buttermilk sauce. I knew that this would be on the list of items to recreate my own way.

I decided that I wanted a distinct crunch so I used polenta instead of the traditional cornmeal. While at the farmers market, one of the vendors had an entire bin of green tomatoes and it was sign that I need to finally make my version of fried green tomatoes. After a bit of experimentation, I came up with a recipe that was perfect. My husband and I enjoyed them on Halloween night while answering the door with the little trick or treaters.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Spicy Buttermilk Sauce

4 lg. Green tomatoes
2 Eggs
½ C. Milk
1 C. Flour
½ C. Polenta
½ C. Panko bread crumbs
2 t. Salt
10 to 12 Grinds fresh pepper
2 t. Garlic powder
Canola oil for frying

Slice the tomatoes into ½ inch slices. Set aside. In the first bowl add the milk and eggs together and whisk. In the second bowl, add the flour. In the third bowl, add the polenta, panko, salt, pepper and garlic powder and mix.

To prepare the tomatoes, first dredge in the flour and cover completely and shake off any excess. Then dip into the egg mixture and cover completely and let any excess drip off. Then dredge into the polenta mixture and cover completely and shake off excess. Continue to process all of the tomatoes.

In a large skillet, add about ½ inch to one inch of canola oil and heat on medium. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Be careful to not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle salt on each one.

Spicy Buttermilk Sauce

¼ C. Buttermilk
1/3 C. Mayonnaise
½ t. Cayenne pepper (add more if you like it spicy)
1 t. Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Scallions, trimmed and sliced thin, both green and white (reserve a bit to sprinkle on top)

Add all of the above ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Either serve on top of the fried green tomatoes or serve on the side.


  1. Those tomatoes look lovely. Gosh, I miss summer already. :/

  2. Love how crunchy your fried green tomatoes look! I grew up in the South and make these every summer. The creamy/spiciness of the buttermilk sauce is a perfect foil to the tartness of the tomatoes. Brilliant! I'll have to watch that movie again...

  3. Oh man, these look so good. I have never had a good friend green tomato. I have only tried twice them twice though.


  4. I love fried green tomatoes! The addition of buttermilk sauce sounds like a delicious accompaniment!

  5. One of those movies I've been wanting to see, and still haven't. These fried green tomatoes are perfect sides or appetizers. I luv that you added polenta!

  6. Delicious! Thank you for sharing this :)

  7. I love fried green tomatoes. This looks amazing.

  8. Your tomatoes look better than any I've had in the south! What a great movie and a great snack. I really want to try yours!!

  9. These tomatoes look amazing and so delicious!!!! Thanks for sharing :-)

  10. I think I've only ever tried fried green tomatoes once before. I love your use of polenta for the extra crunch and that buttermilk sauce? Sounds great all by itself! These are a treat indeed!

  11. I've always been so curious about fried green tomatoes...these look delicious!

  12. MMM they look delsih!!! I did some with poched eggs and a homemade chive mayo.. they were wonderful!!

  13. Hot Polka Dot's Mom (Judy)November 8, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    I've never had fried green tomatoes and before the movie didn't even know what they were. Tomatoes yes, fried green no :) I think it must be more of an American dish as opposed to Canadian. A unique cultural treat that I intend to indulge in. They look so crispy and yummy and the spicy buttermilk sauce is mouthwatering. Thanks for sharing!

  14. These look delightful! Congrats on the Top 9!

  15. These do look incredible and I love your sauce!
    Congratulations on FB top 9:)

  16. woow..interesting never thought to eat it in this way, looks awesome..

  17. I am from Oklahoma and my aunt makes the best green matars...but now I have your recipe so now my aunt and I will have to have a show down next time I visit...LOL

  18. These honestly look SO delicious. I've never had fried green tomatoes [I'm a bad Southern girl] but these look too good not to try!

  19. wow..your tomatoes look so much better than mine. I made mine with chickpea flour, chilli and garlic powder


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