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Jul 30, 2009 02:12 PM

Eggplant a la parmigiana failure - salting problem?

I wanted to make eggplant parmiggiana without the breading and frying. I sliced the baby eggplant (full of seeds), rubbed it with oil and lightly salted it and roasted it in the oven until just tender. Made the parmesan casserole. Just took it out and it is soupy. The eggplant released an ocean full of water.

Please help; I really love this dish.
Also, for zucchini and eggplant when you make it traditionally, egg wash, breadcrumbs and fry, how do you get the breadcrumbs to stick to the eggplant/zucchini. Is salting and letting it release water a must?

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  1. As you have guessed, the problem you had is a salting one. To get the eggplant to release its water before cooking, sprinkle both sides of every slice with salt and put them on paper towels or in a colander and bowl. Let them sit about a half hour and they should be good to go.

    I don't know about zucchini (I prefer mine unadorned), but I do use an egg wash to make the breadcrumbs stick. From there you can either fry or bake...I prefer to bake but whatever floats your boat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pickledtink

      Whenever I salt a vegetable, I rinse off the salt afterwards and pat dry with paper towels before using.

      As for the current problem, pour off as much of the "soup" as you can, prop the pan up on a tilt and use paper towels to wick off some more, then cover again with tomato sauce and bake until it reduces some.

      1. re: greygarious

        We like the skin, so I will peel alternate strips. Will salt, drain and rinse unless I have Chinese eggplant which does not require this. I don't remember having to do this many years ago when I watched my grandmother doing it.

    2. Yes, you have to salt it and let it sit first to get the bitter water released. Works also for zucchini, altho it's not as bitter.

      1. When I make eggplant parmesan (with my homegrown eggplant) I PEEL the eggplant but DO NOT salt it.

        I dip it in egg and then in breadcrumbs and it sticks just fine. I have both fried it and not fried it before assembling the casserole. I like it best when fried. (of course!)

        11 Replies
        1. re: janetms383

          That must work for your taste!! The peeling & not salting.

          1. re: Phurstluv

            I don't salt, and always peel too. Then flour, egg/cream and breadcrumbs (and pour the extra egg between the layers). It's just not right if it's not fried, although I know that's an old-fashioned opinion. Eggplant this way is so delicious that we always eat a bunch right out of the fryer as an appetizer (even my cats like it this way!) When you bread and fry, the juiciness gets trapped inside the slices, rather than leeching out..

            1. re: Phurstluv

              I've never found eggplant to be bitter at all, and I don't like that tough skin in the final product. Maybe it's the skin that's bitter and by peeling I don't have that problem...?

              1. re: janetms383

                From what I understand, nowadays the bitterness has been bred out of commercial eggplant. People just salt out of habit.

                The skin is a regional preference, I've heard skin-on referred to as "Neopolitan style". My father liked it that way, my husband will not allow it. So I peel, it's all the same to me.

                1. re: coll

                  Are garden grown considered "commercial"? Would that be because of the way the starter plants are grown?

                  1. re: janetms383

                    I think coll is talking about the seed strains not the growing methods. The salting is designed to draw out both the fluid and any bitterness,

                    I usually use the long asian eggplants which really dont require this treatment. I might have roasted the epplant a bit longer til golden and also looked to the thickness and quantity of of the tomato sauce used - not that much is needed to coat the epplant.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Yes, the big pear-shaped dark purple guys require salting and draining to remove bitterness, but the light purple Asian ones do not. The only exception I know of to the slicing-and-draining requirement is when you fire-roast a whole one Armenian style. The bitter juices are somehow transformed into a spicy overtone, and when the roasted eggplant is mashed up with salt and pepper and olive oil it's just amazing...

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        WADR, I disagree. I grow the large pear shaped purple ones and NEVER salt, but ALWAYS peel.
                        The eggplant is not bitter.
                        My casserole is not soupy.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          calling harold mcgee! i simply do not find eggplant all that bitter and suspect/know/believe modern hybrids are not. even my italian grandparents did not salt. the large italian ones are cheap and always around, so that's what i normally use.

                          i call wives' tale on this bitterness bollocks.

                  2. re: janetms383

                    Right, janetms383, that's what I'm thinking. I still find them slightly bitter if I don't salt. And I usually peel them too.

                2. Flour, then egg, then crumbing the zucchini will make the crust stick...same for eggplant.

                  1. I don't fry anymore, I brush with olive oil salt and pepper, then grill them. The slices make a great parmesean.