Jill Dupleix

Green tomatos.
Green tomatoes have a tangy, lightly-pickled quality. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What are they?

Firm, green, under-ripe tomatoes, dipped in flour, cornmeal or crumbs and fried until crisp. Made famous by the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, starring Kathy Bates, they have a uniquely tangy, almost lightly-pickled quality that can only be described as … fried green tomatoes.

Where are they?

Fried green tomato burger.
Jill Dupleix's fried green tomato burger. Merchandise: By Joost from byjoost.com. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Charleston, US, chef Sean Brock, here for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, coats green tomatoes in cornmeal, sizzles them up and serves them with pimiento cheddar cheese as part of his mission "to restore a dying cuisine in America".

VICTORIA

At Joe's Bar in St Kilda, chef Katrina Higham sends out fried green tomato sliders stacked with slaw.

Chef Catriona Freeman of Belle's Diner in Fitzroy has fun with green tomatoes, first crumbing and frying them before stuffing them into brioche buns and serving them with chipotle mayonnaise, cos leaves, caramelised onions, dill pickle and parmesan. And Old Bay-spiced French fries, of course.

"It's one of the most popular vegetarian dishes on the menu," she says. "We go through 40 or 50 burgers every Saturday."

Freeman spices up the breadcrumbs with cumin, herbs and parmesan.

Green tomatoes are beautiful, Freeman says. "They have a really old-fashioned, sweet tomato flavour."

NSW

Chef James Metcalfe lists sides of fried green tomatoes with buttermilk dressing on his new menu at The Bourbon, along with smothered greens with bacon, succotash of corn and peas, and crispy pork crackling with Cajun spices.

Dan McGuirt of Jazz City Diner dips green tomatoes in buttermilk and cornmeal and fries them until crunchy, offering them on the diner menu alongside gumbo, mac cheese, and southern fried chicken burgers.

"We serve them as a fried green tomato salad with leaves and a classic green goddess dressing," he says. "The outside crisps up in the pan, and the insides soften and taste really tangy."

Why do I care?

Because it turns something inedible into something incredible, especially at the tail end of summer, when there's not enough sun to ripen those last few beauties on the vine.

Can I do it at home?

Yes, if you grow your own tommies. Otherwise, ask around at farmer's markets or sort through supermarket displays for the green ones. Serve with sausages, bacon or pan-fried fish.

Sourcing it

Husk, 76 Queen Street, Charleston, South Carolina +1 84 3577 2500

VICTORIA

Joe's Bar , 64 Acland Street, St Kilda, (03) 9525 3755

Belle's Diner, 150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, (03) 9077 0788

NSW

The Bourbon, 22 Darlinghurst Road, King's Cross, (02) 9035 8888

Jazz City Diner, 238 Crown St, Darlinghurst, (02) 9332 2903

 

Make it - Fried green tomato burger

Cooking time will depend on the level of (under)ripeness, so play it by ear. Add your favourite burger fillings - caramelised onions, bacon, pickles.

3 green tomatoes, thickly sliced

1 cup plain flour

Sea salt and pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup breadcrumbs

60ml olive oil for frying

200g haloumi, sliced

4 burger buns or English muffins, split

2 tbsp mayonnaise

Handful of rocket leaves

4 slices pickled beetroot

half red onion, finely sliced

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Dip each tomato slice into seasoned flour, then egg, then crumbs, until well coated. Heat the oil in a fry pan, and fry the tomatoes in batches for 2 minutes on either side until browned. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until tender. Fry the haloumi in a hot pan until golden brown. Heat the buns for 2 minutes, then spread with mayonnaise. Layer the rocket, beetroot, haloumi, fried green tomatoes and red onion in each burger and serve hot.

Serves 4

TRENDING Crosnes, pronounced crones, or easier, ''Chinese artichokes''. Crisp, juicy, spiral-shaped little tubers that chefs (e.g. Shannon Bennett at Vue de Monde) love to send out just to make you say, ''What was that?''