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MicroWaving Eggplant Before Using in a Recipe a la Cook's Illustrated

I just tested this process with a small amount of eggplant, as described here:

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/other...

After 6 minutes on power #8, the eggplant cubes had, in fact, become very dry, with no liquid remaining on the cubes or on the filter-lined plate. BUT, the cubes are so dessicated that they are no longer good to eat.

Are they beyond using for a recipe or will they, in fact, plump up return to edible status after being cooked in tomato sauce?

I would appreciate comments from anyone who has tried this technique. I do not want to commit my entire stash of eggplant until I know for certain if I should proceed with the microwave, or simply fry in olive oil as I have done in the past. (I am preparing the eggplant for use in pasta alla Norma).

Many thanks!!

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  1. No, I haven't tried that recipe and doubt I ever will. Microvwaving eggplant for 10 minutes and then sauteeing in olive oil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. What's the point?

    1 Reply
    1. re: miss_belle

      My guess is the point is to need less oil, but it does not appeal to me.

    2. I've used the technique in their recipe for caponata, and it worked well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DebL

        But when you used it, did the cubes get so dry that they had no liquid remaining, and did they again plump up when you added them to the rest of the ingredients and liquid?

        The point is to avoid all of the oil that eggplant usually soaks up.

        1. re: erica

          Yes, they looked inedible after microwaving, but plumped back up and were perfectly fine.

      2. CI oftens solves problems we didn't know we had-both a good and a bad thing.

        In this case, if you do the usual thing and salt your prepped eggplant, and then rinse/dry before cooking in oil and do not bathe them in the stuff, but merely saute, then they do not absorb an unseemly amount of (olive) oil-so I would likely see this technique as overkill.

        Why not try a few of your dessicated chunks in a small pan of hot tom sauce on stove-top for 20 mins to see what happens?

        1. Salting AND microwaving the eggplant is overkill - you only need to do one or the other. Plus, adding salt before nuking makes the eggplant itself rather salty and you have to adjust the salt level in the rest of the recipe. Serious Eats did an experiment with it a couple of years ago, and theirs is now my go-to method - spread the cubes or slices on a paper towel-lined plate, cover with another paper towel, and nuke for 3 minutes on high. They turn out perfectly firm and sufficiently dry without becoming completely desiccated.

          1 Reply
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            And just the other day on Serious Eats, the Cook's Illustrated method resurfaces: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

          2. the problem as i see it, is microwaving it uncovered. if it's covered, it gets cooked and softened through a wet steam, and doesn't dry it out... i do it all the time if i'm trying to hasten getting dinner on. i'll cube or slice the eggplant, then nuke in an enclosed container for 3-5 minutes or so depending upon slices, cubes, etc. then whatever i'm doing with it... roasting, layering, etc.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Emme

              Thanks. I microwaved the rest of the eggplant last night, uncovered on coffee filters, for about 3 minutes. It shrunk a bit but did not dry out. Whether it soaked up less oil in the frying step is debatable, but the resulting pasta (I used casarecce) alla Norma did turn out very well. I will monkey around with various microwaving times and report back if I find anything interesting.