Surprisingly savory, sweet and salty. The clever use of confectioners sugar helps brown the eggplant, and panko adds crunch.
Stir together confectioners sugar, cornstarch, panko, and salt in a wide shallow bowl. Cut eggplant crosswise into paper-thin rounds with slicer.
Fill a deep 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) halfway with oil and heat over moderate heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer.
Dredge one fourth of slices in cornstarch mixture, tossing until thoroughly coated and lightly pressing to help coating adhere, then gently shake in sieve to remove excess.
Fry coated slices in oil, turning and separating with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer eggplant chips with a wire-mesh or slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then season lightly with salt. Coat and fry remaining slices in 3 batches in same manner, returning oil to 360°F between batches. Chips will crisp as they cool. Serve at room temperature.
•To take the temperature of a shallow amount of oil with a metal flat-framed deep-fat thermometer, put bulb of thermometer in skillet and turn thermometer facedown, resting other end (not plastic handle) against rim of skillet. Check temperature frequently.
•Chips can be made up to 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.
Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer; a deep-fat thermometer; a large sieve