One of the foods that Dad loves is fried green tomatoes, but he is on a sodium-restricted diet, so I have figured out a recipe for low-sodium fried green tomatoes. A four-ounce tomato has 11 grams of sodium. Corn meal does not have sodium — although corn meal mixes do, so check the package — so the main source of sodium in fried green tomatoes is the obvious one: salt. Instead of salt, I use Herb Ox No Sodium Chicken Bouillon and ground pepper. If you need extra flavor, add chili peppers to the oil when frying.
Here are the steps for making low-sodium fried green tomatoes:
- If you are growing your own tomatoes and don’t know when to pick a green tomato for frying, it’s ripe enough when it reaches full size and too ripe when it is past the breaker stage and really starting to show its mature color. (The breaker stage is when the tomato’s color breaks from green and starts blushing with its mature color. Most hybrids are pink or red, but heirloom tomatoes come in a rainbow of colors.) The reason for not frying ripe tomatoes is that once the gel is fully developed around the seeds, they become loose and will fall out during the frying process. But a green tomato is almost as solid as an apple and when sliced will stay together.
- Wash the tomatoes.
- Slice off the bottom and trim the shoulders of the tomato, so that those slices will sit flat in the frying pan. Cut out the small core at the top of the tomato. Slice the tomato into 1/4-inch slices. If you make the slices too thick, the corn meal crust will burn before the tomato can cook through enough to become soft.
- Using the proportions above for the number of tomatoes you plan to fry, mix the corn meal, no sodium bouillon and pepper in a measuring cup, then pour some out on a plate.
- Coat each slice of tomato on both sides with the corn meal mixture and put them on a plate. If you are preparing several tomatoes, use a paper towel to keep the layers of tomatoes separate.
- Put enough canola oil or ghee in a frying pan to coat the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat to medium. The oil is hot enough when it bubbles when you add the first tomato slice.
- Watch for the cornmeal to turn light brown at the edges of the tomato slices and flip the slices when they do. Each slice is ready when the cornmeal is light brown and the tomato is soft when you stick it with a fork or the edge of your spatula.
- Layer the cooked fried green tomato slices on paper towels to absorb any extra oil.
- Serve hot or room temperature.
Tip: some of the cornmeal coating will fall off the tomatoes as they fry. To keep that cornmeal from burning and making subsequent batches taste bad, when it starts to brown, pour out all the oil and cornmeal and wipe out the pan. Then add fresh oil or ghee and let it heat up again before adding more green tomato slices.