How to buy and your favorite way to prepare a single eggplant side dish
- Taye Apr 17, 2005 10:00 AM
I read that its bitter, how do you reduce this?
Do you peel or not?
What's male, what's female?
What species is better, Italian, Japanese, ?
Simple preparations of eggplant (no moussaka, please)
Look forward to your responses
I'll start. When you purchase an eggplant, the skin should be smooth, taut and shiny, no bruises, no brown scars. The top should be a fresh green with no mold. When you pick one up, it should feel a bit heavy for it's size. Someone will surely post a recipe here and tell you how to "sweat" the eggplant, which helps reduce bitterness.
Oh, and the male/female thing: it's just a myth, no doubt spread by the same people who wash their chickens before cooking them.
I was always taught the male/female thing was true but since I started working with an organic farm as a consultant and creating food products I am learning different. There are no male or female eggplants. They are fruit and so can't be male or female.
To prevent bitterness you need a young fruit that hasn't produced as many seeds. Pick one that is light for its size. Also if you press in on the eggplant with your thumb and the flesh comes back when you release it is mature but young. If the flesh is hard it is immature. If it doesn't come back but stays dented it is too mature and may have many seeds and be very bitter.
The Italian and the various Asian types all taste different. I don't care for the texture of the Italian ones much. I think they can get spongy. I always peel them since the flesh can get tough. I have never had a bitter Japanese eggplant and I don't peel them. I like to cook with them more than the Italian.
The small Thai eggplant the size of a gold ball and green with light green stripes are bitter, but in a good way. And they are supposed to be. Not the type of bitter the large ones can be.
I haven't cooked the white egg shaped ones and don't know what they taste like.
For this dish I use long skinny eggplants. I have seen the darker ones called Japanese and the lighter ones Chinese, but they are pretty much the same.
Cut them in half lengthwise (no peeling, no salting), rub them all over with oil and broil them until both sides are brown and spotty and the flesh looks soft.
Cool a bit and chop with a sharp knife into 1/2 inch chunks.
I make a sauce of soy sauce, sesame oil, a splash of rice wine vinegar, scallions sliced thin including green parts, and sesame seeds. Red chili pepper sauce like Sriracha if you like spicy food. Sorry I can't give you proportions because I never measure.
Toss the eggplant with the sauce and serve. It is good the next day, too, though you might want to add the sesame seeds at the last minute if you are going to hold it.
I prefer the smaller lighter colored eggplants. They seem to have better flavor and thinner skin (no peeling). To prepare them , I slice lengthwise and salt the slices. I then weight them. The salt and weights help to press out bitter juices. Let the slices sit for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime mix freshly chopped garlic and basil with a decent Olive oil. Brush Olive oil on eggplant slices and grill over medium heat. Turn eggplant once on grill and top with a spoonful of the garlic/basil/oil mixture, a slice of freash tomato and a slice of fresh mozzerella. Continue to grill until cheese is melted. Serve immediately