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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?