Everything I Know About Eggplant

Feb 22, 2019 | Cooking Tips

If you listened to the podcast yesterday (anchor.fm/foodinfive) you would know that today’s post was supposed to be about everything I know about cooking bacon.

Early this morning while I was laying in bed, half way between being awake and being asleep, I realized that I had recently written about bacon. When I woke up I checked and I had. You can check that post out here.

So, rather than repeat myself, I decided to talk about an ingredient that we could all stand to use a little more; Eggplant.

This is…

Everything I know about Eggplant

What is an eggplant?

Eggplant is technically a berry and is a member of the nightshade family along with tomatoes and potatoes. It is commonly believed to have been first cultivated in India about 4000 years ago. The whole eggplant is edible; skin, seeds, everything. However, it is suggested that you shouldn’t really eat eggplant raw.

Though the eggplants we most recognize are egg shaped and deep purple in colour, there are many different varieties. Some are long and skinny, while some are small and round. Some are white, some are green, others are striped. This is all to say that there are a lot of varieties of eggplant out there.

Eggplant, or aubergine as it is called in Europe, is not particularly good for you. That’s not to say it’s bad for you, it just isn’t load with nutrients like some other foods. It’s benefit is its sponge like texture that allows it to soak up flavours from sauces, oils, and other ingredients.


Buying Eggplant

When buying eggplant you are looking for one with no bruising or marks. You want the flesh to be firm all over. Check the tops and bottoms particularly for soft spots.


Different ways to cook eggplant

Eggplant is used by many different cultures around the world. People from all over Europe, Africa, and Asia use eggplant and have historically for generations. Because it is used by so many diverse cultures, there are countless ways to prepare it.

Commonly, eggplant can be baked, roasted, stir-fired, deep fried, grilled, or even stewed.

When cooked eggplant often becomes soggy and soft. However there is a way to avoid this and get a firm textured eggplant. This is good when the eggplant will be breaded and deep fried, or in any application where a firm texture would be preferable to a soft texture.

The technique for getting firm textured eggplant is pretty straight forward. Cut the eggplant into evenly sized pieces. Season heavily with salt. Let sit in a strainer for about 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towel and use as desired.

The salting technique works by drawing moisture out of the eggplant. This firms up the flesh and prevents it from turning to mush.

Salting has the added benefit of removing some of the bitter flavour that can be associated with eggplant.


My favourite ways to have eggplant

If I had to choose I would say that I have two favourite eggplant dishes. One is very, very simple. The other, though not complicated takes a bit of time. However, it yields such a delicious end result.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is kind of like lasagne but instead of pasta, breaded and fried pieces of eggplant are used between the layers. Usually, eggplant parmesan doesn’t have any meat in it.

To make eggplant parmesan the eggplant is cut into rounds or long thin pieces and salted, left to sit for 30 minutes, and then rinsed, drained, and patted dry. Then the eggplant is dusted with flour seasoned with salt and pepper, coated in beaten egg and then tossed in breadcrumbs. The breaded eggplant pieces are then fried in a pan or deep fried.

Once the eggplant has been fried it is layered in a casserole dish with tomato sauce and cheese then baked in the oven on 375°F for about 40 minutes.

This is a very Italian dish that is often over looked. If you’ve never had it, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Fire Roasted Eggplant

My second favourite preparation of eggplant is about as easy as cooking can get. Understand that I don’t use the word “easy” lightly here.

To make this dish one whole eggplant is put over an open fire. Every 10 – 15 minutes it is rotated. It is cooked like this until it starts collapse in on itself. Once the eggplant is cooked it is cut into and drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and eaten with pita bread or a spoon.

This eggplant can be garnished with yogurt and pomegranate seeds, tahini, parsley and garlic or anything else that you can imagine.

What I love about this preparation is that it is really simple to do. The eggplant pretty much liquefies and gets really sweet from roasting. And the fact that you can garnish it however you want is an added bonus.

Conclusion

Eggplant is another one of those ingredients that we all walk by everyday in the grocery store but rarely pickup.

For me it’s an ingredient I hardly every think about but when I eat it I’m always like, “Oh yeah! This is delicious. Why don’t I eat more of this?” Then I forget about it again.

I think it’s definitely time that we all take a second look at the eggplant and discover why the rest of the world loves it so much.


Announcement!

Earlier this week I launched a how to not burn shit store which you can check out here. Or by clicking the store link in the menu bar. Right now there are only a few items but I will be adding to the collection over time. All the proceeds from items sold go right back into this site and the podcast.

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Thanks everyone,

Chef Ben

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