For the coating, there are more choices than you might think. Cornmeal and Panko breadcrumbs seem to be the most common and in many cases they are mixed with flour, but I saw recipes that employed cracker crumbs, crushed corn flakes and a liquid fritter-like batter. I like using matzoh meal for dredging as it gives you a crispy and light coating, but I decided to mix in Panko crumbs for the extra crunch. I also happened to have buttermilk in the fridge, which acts as an excellent adhesive for coating fried chicken. Why not tomatoes?
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
1 large or several small to medium sized green tomatoes
1 large egg
1/3 cup of buttermilk
1/2 cup of matzoh meal
1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of flour
Dash of hot sauce
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp of any seasonings that strike your fancy
2 cups of any neutral flavored oil for frying, such as vegetable or canola
Just like any fried food, there is science and technique behind the perfect result. Ultimately, you want a crispy, deep brown coating that adheres to the tomato and you want the inside to be soft and fully cooked but not mushy. In order for the coating to adhere to the tomato, it needs a glue to hold it in place. That glue has to stick to both the coating and the tomato without sliding off. The surface of the tomato has to be dry or the egg will just slip right off and your coating will not adhere properly. That's why fried foods are typically dusted with flour first. The flour creates a dry surface, which allows the egg to stick, then the coating sticks to the egg. When the buttermilk is added to beaten egg, it creates a thick, almost gelatinous goo that sticks beautifully.
The temperature of your cooking environment is also really important. The first step to this preparation is to put your oil on the stove to heat up. I like to use a cast iron skillet for all my frying, but any skillet will do. Pour in enough oil so that it comes up about an inch in the pan and turn the heat to medium. This will heat the oil slowly and allow it to hold its temperature during cooking. The thickness of the sliced tomato is also an important variable. If its too thick and takes too long to cook, you'll have burned coating and a hard tomato. If its too thin, it'll get gushy and fall apart during cooking. While the oil is heating, cut the tomatoes into 1/8th inch slices, lay them flat on the cutting board and sprinkle them with flour. Then beat the egg and buttermilk together with a dash of hot sauce and in a separate bowl combine the bread crumbs, matzoh meal or whatever you're using with the spices. By the way, I used granulated garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper in my coating.
Once they are a deep golden brown, remove them from the oil one by one allowing then to drip off before placing them on a sheet tray. I do not drain any of my fried food on paper towels as the steam that is released from the hot food will create moisture, which is absorbed by the paper towel and transmitted back into the coating you worked so hard to get perfect. It'll get soggy and fall off before you know it. If you are concerned about drainage, put your fried tomatoes on a metal rack on the sheet tray to allow the extra oil to drip through. Sprinkle a little salt on the finished tomatoes while they are still hot.