I love fried foods, especially Olive Garden's eggplant Parmesan but since I now have to eat gluten free, I can only eat fried foods if I prepare it myself at home. This is how I make it. I usually make it easy by using a store bought marinara sauce although I like to doctor it up a bit.
1Put the eggplant in the large bowl of salted water and let it soak while you prepare everything else. You can do this hours ahead or just prior to starting preparation.
2Have your marinara sauce ready or make it homemade at this point.
3Beat the eggs and add the milk to it. Season the panko crumbs with the seasonings and the grated parmesan cheese.
Set up a bowl with the eggs (beaten together), a shallow pan with the seasoned panko crumbs, and the eggplant (drained well). Have a large parchment paper lined pan ready and the oven turned to low or holding warm. The pan I use is the bottom of my boiler pan. I line it with foil and then the parchment. There is absolutely no clean up of the pan necessary with this method!:)
4In a large fry pan, pour a 1/4 of an inch of oil of your choice. I use a mixture of light olive oil and canola. As you fry, you may have to add more oil a little at a time depending on how many slice of eggplant you use.
5When the oil is hot enough for the pieces to sizzle some, start dipping the eggplant slices into the egg batter, then the panko crumbs, then the pan. Do not crowd the pan too much or the eggplant will be not be crispy enough. Cook till almost done, just several minutes with turning over. Transfer pieces to the parchment lined pan. When done frying, top the slices with marinara sauce. (If the pan is too small I will put two or three pieces in the pan overlapping one another and treat it as one portion.) Sprinkle each piece with mozzarella cheese.
6Bake in 300 to 350 degree oven until the cheese melts. Serve with spaghetti mixed with more of the marinara sauce or a salad.