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
I actually don't like aubergines; I think they're tasteless and their texture is blah (esp when compared to the vegetables available at this time of year). That said, I do like an ex-roommate's melanzane parmigiana (eggplant parmesan in American). Her family runs a restaurant just outside of Milan.
Slice, salt and grill your eggplants. I use a grill pan. Make sure to do both sides.
In a saucepan, fry some chopped onions and garlic in a little olive oil. Add dried oregano, S&P and some chopped tomatoes. Cook about ten min to get a light, still fresh pasta sauce, slightly chunkier than normal.
Slice some balls of mozzarella (no good quality di bufala; just from your supermarket is great), and open a pack of processed emmenthaler cheese (you know, velveeta style slices between irritating pieces of plastic). A bit of grated parmigian is optional.
Grease a baking dish and layer the eggplant slices, tomato sauce, cheeses (do mozzarella and emmenthaler separately, separated by either a layer of eggplant, and/or sauce), starting with a layer of eggplant and finishing with a tomato sauce layer then a cheese layer. Put optional parmesan on top. Bake in the oven for 30 min. Grill for the last four min to get the cheese on top to crisp up.
This is exactly how she made it, processed cheese and cheap mozzarella and all!
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
Buy japanese eggplant. For 2 people, get 4. THey will shrink considerably after cooking.
They should be smooth and firm, no wrinkles or mushy spots. I think smaller is better, for increased skin-to-flesh ratio = better form & flavour.
Slice 1" thick. Do not peel, do not salt, do not flatten beneath a colander.
Saute on high heat with a few cloves peeled chopped garlic in a heavy pan with hot canola or peanut oil (do not use olive oil). Stir constantly and do not worry if the pieces stick or start to lose their shape.
When the skin changes from purple to brown, add 1 box of drained extra firm tofu diced into diamond-shaped chunks + 1/4 cup good quality oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand, or the one with the pastoral scene with little people on it) + dash of black pepper (Szechuan, if you can get it) + 1 tiny minced Thai chili pepper. (More chili, if you can stand it. The chili is essential. Substitute hot pepper flakes if you don't have fresh chili.)
Stir gently to avoid breaking the tofu, and so the sauce does not burn. Add a splash of water if there is not enough glaze to coat everything. Cook until the tofu is heated through and has absorbed flavors. Garnish with a handful of chopped coriander, if you have it.
Best served on top of jasmine rice.
I've been making this since I was a starving student, and my honey still gobbles it up every time I make it. It's definitely a favourite.
This one's my own recipe and I love it!
Japanese eggplant - slice 1 1/2" - SET PIECES CAREFULLY ON THE CUT ENDS and fry in covered skillet medium-low until just browned (sorry, no time available, this is my sit-in-the-kitchen-and-get-left-alone-for-once recipe), then turn and fry on the other cut end until just browned.
Serve on a nice Chinese platter, the pieces also set on their cut ends and drizzled with a bit (just a BIT) of sauce (below) - serve warm or room-temp.
Sauce: gently boil 1/4 cup soy sauce, maybe a bit of Chinese cooking wine, maybe a splash of rice vinegar, a bit of garlic and ginger, a pinch (or more) of sugar, a drop of sesame oil, thickened to "gravy" consistency with a bit of cornstarch.
not a side, really, but an app. I serve it as a dip with pita toasts.
1 large eggplant
5 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup loosely packed micro-arugula or chopped arugula
1 Tbsp miso
2 Teas. sugar
1 Tbsp orange infused olive oil
4 whole wheat pitas
Pierce eggplant several times with fork. Roast at 400 about 30 min. Meanwhile, chop tomatoes coarsely, place in bowl with miso and sugar (allows miso and sugar time to dissolve in the tomato water). When eggplant is cool enough to work with, remove skin and chop coarsely. Combine with tomato, add arugula. Drizzle with olive oil.