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HELP me Grill the perfect Eggplant Slices

pancake Jul 21, 2008 04:17 PM

I need to perfect grilled eggplant once and for all...Eggplant is one of my all time faves but I never seem to get grilled eggplant right.

So whats the secret chows?
Eggplant type - japanese/italian?
Size of slices?
Marinade with what?
Salt before?
How long to I grill?
At what temperature is the grill?
Direct/indirect heat?
What do I dress them with after?

So many questions for such a simple decadent dish.
Maybe if I really get at these specifics here i'll be able to finally make grilled eggplant properly!

Thanks chows - appreciated greatly as usual

  1. todao Jul 22, 2008 04:19 PM

    I agree with the statement that, when properly selected, egg plant doesn't need the salt treatment. You've probably got enough suggestions on "how to" cut 'em, cook 'em, etc., but I'd like to suggest that if you haven't tried serving them with a Tzatziki sauce you've missed something very special. It is a wonderful taste experience.

    1. b
      Buvezdevin Jul 22, 2008 06:21 AM

      There is a great site that I just found after this string inspired me to do some searching for more eggplant info, it contains ONLY eggplant recipes, and the one for Argentine style grilled eggplant is one I will be trying soon! Pancake, you might also consider slicing eggplant to several thicknesses, and grilling for different lengths of time during a single grilliing session to determine the thickness/doneness which appeals most to you. I like grilled eggplant slices that are tender inside, but not done to limpness, so slice thinner and grill for a short period on each side (as described in first post), but when I'm baking eggplant slices, I prefer a thicker slice, don't use olive oil before cooking, and cook longer in a low oven for "pillowy" slices. As raw eggplant will soak up olive oil, I apply lightly before grilling, but have found that applying some olive oil before grilling really improves the moisture retention and tenderness. Here is link to the aubergine recipe site: http://www.aubergines.org/recipes.php...

      1. s
        smtucker Jul 21, 2008 04:45 PM

        I grill eggplant two ways, depending on my intended use.

        First off, I puncture a whole eggplant and grill, turning frequently, until the eggplant begins to collapse. [This is always followed by dissecting the eggplant, removing the skin, pulling out the strands of seeds, and then draining for 24 hours.] This method is used for creating eggplant dips and spreads.

        The other method I use involves slicing the eggplants, brushing with some olive oil, and grilling. For this method I use Japanese or small traditional eggplant. If I am serving the eggplant as part of a grilled veggie sauce, or in addition to other grilled vegetables, I generally slice them lengthwise, 1/4" thick. If I am serving with a sauce or topping with cheese or serving them on their own, I will slice them across at 1/2-3/4" thick. If they are too thick, the outside gets browned before the inside is tender.

        After brushing with oil, I will often top with crushed herbs that compliment the final preparation.

        5 Replies
        1. re: smtucker
          b
          Buvezdevin Jul 21, 2008 06:17 PM

          Often, when grilling an entree, I love do a quick, easy eggplant grill for a side. My preference is to use a larger eggplant, sliced across into approx 1/3 inch slices, brushed or lightly sprayed with olive oil and salted on both sides. Generally, since I use a gas grill with four gas bars, regardless of what else is being grilled, I grill the eggplant over direct medium flame for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. This provides nice grill marks, and a tender center without drying out or leaving a completely limp slice of eggplant. I serve them without dressing. While this works well, and I enjoy it often, I'd appreciate any tips you may garner on variations!

          1. re: Buvezdevin
            pancake Jul 21, 2008 09:59 PM

            Okay - very helpful so far.
            I was overcooking mine then! I was definately drying them out - worrying they would be raw inside - 2 to 3 mins per side is all it takes?
            Do you do the pre-salt prep? Or are they fine without?
            I often eat eggplants from the jar - I wonder if there is a way to mimic the tangy oily flavour the jarred eggplants have without all the oil? That flavour compliments eggplants sooo well. I usually toss them in olive oil/salt after, but would also like any added flavours that might up the anty.

            1. re: pancake
              hill food Jul 22, 2008 02:12 AM

              always soak the slices in salt water and pat dry before any other prep - it draws out the bitter flavor that some detect. doesn't matter if it's grill, saute, or bake.

              1. re: hill food
                j
                janniecooks Jul 22, 2008 06:07 AM

                There is plenty of disagreement among cooks re: whether to salt or not. Carefully selected eggplant isn't bitter. Buy eggplant when it is in season (about midsummer) and look for firm eggplants with deep colored, shiny unwrinkled skin. Maybe old, large, or shriveled eggplants benefit from salting, but properly ripe, young, fresh ones do not need this step.

                I cut my eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds, brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt. Grill until golden-brown grill marks form, about 3 to 4 minutes on a hot grill over direct heat. Turn and grill until tender and well marked on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes more.

                If you slice the eggplant too thick the outside will char while the inside remains hard and uncooked; too thin and it will overcook by the time it has grill marks. You can grill eggplant several hours in advance and served at room temperature with a variety of toppings. Here's my favorite:

                1 clove garlic
                kosher salt
                1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
                1 small shallot finely diced
                3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and finely ground (I just use pre-ground comino)
                Cayenne pepper to taste (a pinch or more)
                1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
                2 tablespoons carsely chopped fresh mint

                Make a paste of the garlic with a pinch of salt and combine it with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a small bowl, letting it sit for 10 minutes. Combine the shallots, remaining lemon juice and a pinch of salt in another bowl, letting it sit for 10 minutes. Whisk the olive oil, cumin, and cayenne into the garlic mixture and adjust the seasoning with salt or more cayenne if needed. Arrange the girlled eggplant slices attractively on a plate, top them with the shallots, then the feta and the herbs. Whisk the vinaigrette again and drizzle it over the eggplant, serve immediately.
                2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

                1. re: hill food
                  Gio Jul 22, 2008 06:09 AM

                  The grilling alone will sweeten the eggplant. No need to pre-salt!

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