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Cooking with David

Eggplant

Copyright © 2006, 2013, 2016 by David E. Ross

Eggplant is frequently found in French cooking (where it is called aubergine) and Italian cooking (melanzane). It is also well known in Romanian, Near-Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian recipes. Eggplant originates in Asia, quite unlike the other solenaceous vegetables (tomato, potato, bell pepper, chili pepper) that originated in the Americas.

If you think you don't like eggplant, try these recipes anyway. If you have indeed tasted eggplant and know you don't like it, try them. You might change your mind.

For best results, buy a firm eggplant that is shiny. The color should not show any brown. Yes, eggplant can be bitter; this is corrected through the use of salt to draw out the bitter juice, as indicated in the recipe.

I have never tried a white, yellow, or striped eggplant. The produce manager at our local market says they are somewhat bland. If you try one of these, reduce or omit the optional seasonings that might overwhelm the flavor of the eggplant.

Oven-Fried Eggplant

This recipe is for a standard, purple eggplant. You can use thin Asian (also known as Japanese) eggplants, but this recipe would then require 2-4 eggplants to get the same quantity. Instead of cubing the slices, slices of Asian eggplant might be left whole if small or halved if large. Although Asian eggplant is often cooked without peeling, they must be peeled for this recipe.

Note: All measurements are approximate.

1 medium or large eggplant
4 heaping TBS bread crumbs
2 heaping TBS flour
(optional) 1 tsp garlic powder
(optional) 1/2 tsp chili powder
salt in a shaker
olive oil

paper towels
colander
cookie sheet

Using a potato peeler, peel the eggplant. Cut off the stem and blossom ends.

Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slices on a double layer of paper towel, not touching or overlapping.

Generously salt the slices. Turn them over. Salt them again. Let stand for 30 minutes.

While the salted eggplant is standing, combine the bread crumbs and flour (and, if desired, garlic and chili powder) in a large Ziploc bag. Shake the bag to mix thoroughly.

Near the end of the 30 minutes, preheat the over to 350°. Thoroughly grease the cookie sheet with olive oil.

After the salted eggplant has stood for 30 minutes, rinse the salt off each slice individually under running water. Pat each slice dry with paper towel. (They will not be really dry, but they should not be dripping from being rinsed.) Cut the slices into cubes.

After the eggplant is completely cubed, put it into the Ziploc bag with the dry ingredients. This should be done all at once, not gradually as the slices are cubed. Seal the bag without eliminating any air. Coat the eggplant with the dry ingredients by shaking and tumbling the bag. Leave the eggplant in the bag for about 5 minutes.

Empty the breaded eggplant into a dry colander that is sitting in the sink. Shake the colander to remove loose breading.

Arrange the eggplant in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

This should serve 2-3 as the only side-dish at dinner or 4-6 if there is another side-dish.

I normally use fresh garlic. This recipe requires garlic powder (if you want any garlic at all) because it must be dry and fine in the breading mixture. Having tried and enjoyed oven-fried eggplant, you might then experiment with other seasonings. Just be careful.

For an interesting flavor, you may replace 1 TBS each the flour and bread crumbs with 2 TBS of almond meal.

Updated 29 September 2013

An even better version — but requiring much more effort — involves applying the recipe for Oven-Fried Zucchini Sticks to an eggplant.

9 November 2016


Sautéed Eggplant with Mushrooms #1

For this, there are no measurements at all. Also, there are no added seasonings; but I like to salt my own serving (which is okay since the salt used in preparation is rinsed away).

As I write this, I used 4-5 Italian crimini mushrooms. You may use the same number of button mushrooms or a small porta bella mushroom.

eggplant
mushrooms
onion
salt
olive oil

Peel an eggplant. Slice the narrow ends crosswise about 1/8 inch thick. Then cut the remaining eggplant in half lengthwise. Slice each half crosswise about 1/8 inch thick.

Lay the slices on a double thickness of paper towel. Salt the slices. Because of the thinness of the slices, they only have to be salted on one side (unlike for the Oven-Fried Eggplant).

Rinse and dry the cutting board and knife to remove any bitter traces of eggplant juice.

Cut 2-4 slices of onion about 1/8 inch thick. Depending on the size of the onion, cut each slice into quarters or sixths. Break the slices apart.

Cut up the mushrooms. I sliced each lengthwise in half and then sliced each half crosswise about 1/4 inch thick. However, you can cut the mushrooms any way you want, just as long as they are in similarly small pieces.

After the salted eggplant has stood for 30 minutes, rinse it in a colander under running water, tossing to ensure that the water rinses all slices. Shake the colander to remove excess water.

**********

Pour about 1 TBS of olive oil into a large frying pan. Over medium high heat, start cooking the mushrooms and onion. As soon as the onion starts to get transparent — before it colors — add the eggplant and another 1 TBS of olive oil. Cover for about 5 minutes. Uncover. Every so often, stir and turn the eggplant over. The eggplant will become somewhat mushy. Cook until much of the eggplant starts to brown.

This should serve 2-3 as the only side-dish at dinner or 4-6 if there is another side-dish.

28 October 2006


Sautéed Eggplant with Mushrooms #2

This has the same ingredients and initial preparation as Sautéed Eggplant with Mushrooms #1; but the cooking is different, yielding a different flavor and consistency.

Do everything for Sautéed Eggplant with Mushrooms #1 down to the row of asterisks.

In a large frying pan, sauté the onions and mushrooms in about 1 TBS of olive oil until the onions start to brown. Remove them to a serving platter.

Add more oil. Sauté a single layer of eggplant slices until lightly browned on both sides. Try to avoid turning the slices more than once. As the slices are done, remove them to the serving platter. Add more oil and sauté more eggplant, repeating until all the eggplant is cooked.

You will find that you keep adding more and more oil because eggplant absorbs it quite readily as it cooks.

20 November 2006


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