Did you know that eggplant is actually a fruit? Even more interesting is that it is considered a berry! Also known as an ‘Aubergine,’ it’s known for its spongy texture and thick skin. At one time, they had a very strong bitterness to them but since then they have been cultivated to be much milder.
Eggplant is enjoyed across many cultures and can be added to a Thai or Indian curry, an Italian-inspired eggplant Parmesan, or roasted to make grilled veggie pasta or a sandwich.
There are many varieties to choose from including deep purple and white and sizes ranging from 2-12 inches and shaped oblong to round. Most common are the rich purple eggplants that are pear-shaped and have smooth and glossy skin. They can range from small and young to large and mature. Japanese Eggplant is long and narrow and very tender, with a mildly sweet taste. White Eggplant is exactly what it sounds like. They have tougher skin and can be long, round, or egg-shaped and can sometimes be slightly bitter.
How to Pick an Eggplant:
Pick an eggplant that is firm to the touch and heavy for its size. The skin should be smooth and shiny and there should never be any bruising or mould growing around the stem.
How to Store Eggplant:
Eggplant is quite perishable and should be used within a day or two of purchasing. Store, uncut, in a cool and dry area. If you need to store longer, you can place it in your refrigerator’s crisper for an extra day or two.
How to Prepare Eggplant:
You can cook eggplant in a variety of ways including: baked, oven roasted, grilled, steamed, deep-fried, or pan-fried. To prepare , wash the skin and trim off the stalks. If the skin is thick, it’s usually best to peel it off.
Not so long ago, it was necessary to salt it before cooking to eliminate that bitter taste. Nowadays, they are cultivated so that they aren’t as bitter.
1 pound = 3 ½ cups chopped = 1 ¾ cup cooked.
Kary’s Eggplant Tips:
- Since the flesh is like a sponge, it will absorb oil very quickly when pan-frying, leaving your eggplant greasy and unevenly cooked. To avoid this, salt the cubed flesh and let it rest in a colander for 30 minutes. Then squeeze dry between two sheets of paper towel. Salting will remove its moisture and pressing it will compact the eggplant, making it meaty. Now it’s ready to pan-fry!
- Another way to extract moisture before pan-frying sliced eggplant is to microwave it. Toss with a little salt, place on a plate lined with paper towel and microwave until it looks dry and slightly shriveled, about 6 to 10 minutes.
- The longer eggplant is cooked, the softer and silkier becomes.
- The skin can be very thick. It’s best to peel it off, especially if you’re serving it in chucks or slices.
- They taste great in stir-fries and curries and equally as tasty when roasted or grilled.
- When not salting eggplant, it’s best to cut it right before cooking so it won’t brown.
What Does Eggplant Go Well With?
Eggplant goes well with: Anchovies, basil, sweet bell peppers, bread, cheese, chickpeas, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut milk, cumin, garlic, ginger, lemon, mint, olive oil, onions, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, tahini paste, sesame, soy sauce, thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, and zucchini.