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Jun 11, 2009 11:03 AM

Pre-salting eggplant?

A lot of cookbooks include this step to draw water out of the eggplant. Is this really necessary? Or can I just skip it?

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  1. I am sure you will get many variations on this. I don't salt mine, but I primarily use the smaller japanese eggplants. The older mature eggplants are the ones that have more seeds and tend to get bitter. By adding a little salt it draws out the water and the bitterness. I only do this when using full size mature eggplants. I just put a small great over a cookie sheet and season with salt. Let drain and then cook. But I like the small eggplants for more flavor and great texture. I think I only salted them once until I found out by trail and error I didn't need to salt them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kchurchill5

      Exactly what kchurchill and silverhawk said. :)

      If young and relatively dense and tender, no need to salt. Anything else, salt unless you like your eggplant bitter.

    2. if you've got time and if you're using "big" eggplant and not the smaller japanese version, i'd salt/press. it improves the taste and the "cookability."

      3 Replies
      1. re: silverhawk

        A few versions of the small ones available at our farmers market which I love buying. I hardly ever buy the big ones anymore.

        1. re: kchurchill5

          looks like we were typing an initial answer at nearly the same time. sorry for the overlap. fortunately, we agreed.

          1. re: silverhawk

            We did, oh well 2 answers for the price of one :)

      2. i don't salt. i like that the eggplant is bitter. i also suspect that step was from long ago when the eggplants were far more bitter than the hybrids in stores now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I'd press and salt if I was planning on frying it, just to reduce the water and get a quicker, more even browning on the eggplant.

        2. I learned to make eggplant from my Sicilian MIL (who is now 88 and has dementia).
          I had never liked eggplant until she taught me her version, which I loved and still make exactly as directed. I never vary.

          And it is salted.

          4 Replies
            1. re: Jacey

              Slice 4 eggplants thinly. Salt and single layer between paper towels as you slice. I put a towel down, cover with as many slices as I can, salt (I use coarse Kosher salt) and put another towel on top and repeat.

              When all eggplant is sliced and between toweling, I turn the entire production over.

              Saute in single layer in olive oil and repeat layering between paper toweling.

              Saute one chopped onion until translucent and add 1 can (15) oz. tomato sauce. Stir to combine.

              Spoon small amount of sauce into bottom of baking dish. Cover with layer of eggplant. Sprinkle LIGHTLY with grated pecorino romano. Repeat layers ending with light layer of pecorino.

              cover w/foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

              Good hot or cold. (I love it cold w/Italian bread)

              1. re: laliz

                Oh man, I should have waited a day to cook mine. This sounds great!

                1. re: laliz

                  you are my new favorite person.... My nonna taught my the same way... (my mom cant cook... ;))

            2. I buy regular eggplant but never really large ones (it's just 2 of us) and I don't salt it. Last Friday, I was dying for some eggplant parmigiana, on a work night no less. I almost salted it because my sister always does but I figured we would be eating at 11 p.m. if I did I didn't salt it and it was deee-lish. I've never had a problem not salting but I try to buy young, smallish eggplant.