Tips on Eggplants
speaking, don't fry them.
Eggplants are a sponge for oil. Thats the
conventional wisdom, anyway. However, Harold
McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The
Science and Lore of the Kitchen, suggests
that those who since time immemorial have
complained about this simply havent waited
long enough. Eggplants absorb oil because a high
proportion of the volume of the vegetable
consists of intercellular air pockets, he
explains. "The point is reached, however,
when the heat of the pan and oil begins to
collapse the structure, and then, like a squeezed
sponge, it gives up much of the oil," McGee
- Instead of frying,
roast, bake, grill or steam eggplants.
To roast, cut into thick slices and coat lightly
with olive oil before placing in an oiled pan in
a hot oven until soft. Or roast whole under a
broiler or over an open flame. Before roasting
them whole, however, be sure to prick eggplants
in a few places to avoid an explosion.
- How to infuse an
eggplant with a smoky flavor on the stovetop.
Paula Wolfert, in The Cooking of the
Eastern Mediterranean, passes on this tip she learned from Greek
cookbook author Vefa Alexiadou. Wrap it in a
double thickness of foil and set it over high
flames on the top of a stove, turning on all
sides, until it collapses.
- To reduce
bitterness, salt eggplant slices or chunks.
Let the salted chunks sit for awhile before
draining them in a colander. That will do the
trick, or so say some eggplant authorities.
Others insist salting wont cure bitterness
but can help eggplant pieces hang together during
cooking and may also prevent them from soaking up
so much oil.
- Smaller, immature
eggplants are best.
Full-sized puffy ones may have hard seeds and can
- Ignore their
Contrary to some reports, the presence or absence
of an indentation at the bottom of the vegetable
doesnt distinguish males from females.
Eggplants and all other seed-bearing fruits and
vegetables are female.