Are you wondering how to cook eggplant the right way? Look no further! In this article, I’ll not only share my mom’s mouthwatering roasted eggplant recipe but also provide you with other simple and successful methods to cook this versatile vegetable.
The Delight of Perfectly Cooked Eggplant
There’s something truly delightful about perfectly cooked and seasoned eggplant. If you haven’t experienced it yet, wait until you try my mom’s delicious roasted eggplant recipe. But that’s not all – I’ll also show you how to grill, bake, roast, shallow fry, and stir-fry this incredible vegetable.
Note: Eggplant is also known as aubergine in Europe.
Types of Eggplant
Eggplants come in various shapes and sizes, each with its unique characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at some popular types:
Globe eggplant, also known as American eggplant or just “eggplant,” is large and rounded. It has a dark purple and shiny skin, with firm and meaty flesh. This type of eggplant is incredibly versatile and can be roasted, baked, grilled, fried, or used in any eggplant dish you like.
Similar in shape and size to the globe eggplant, Italian eggplant is slightly sweeter and more tender. It’s perfect for making lasagna and eggplant parmesan, as well as being a great substitute in most recipes that call for globe eggplants.
Japanese eggplant, or Chinese eggplant, is long and thin. It is sweeter and creamier than regular eggplant, making it ideal for stir-frying and braising. This type of eggplant is widely used in East and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Graffiti eggplant stands out with its unique violet hue and white stripes. Although the skin color fades when cooked, this type of eggplant is highly versatile and can be used in almost any eggplant dish.
Fairy Tale Eggplant
Small, cute, stunning, and delicious – that’s the fairy tale eggplant. With its violet color and mottled white stripes, it has a creamy and sweet flesh. Fairy tale eggplant is perfect for sautéing, stir-frying, or grilling.
Thai eggplants are small, round, and green. While they may be hard to find at regular supermarkets, you can often locate them at local Asian grocers. Thai eggplants are essential for making authentic Thai green curry. They can also be stir-fried with tomato and basil or enjoyed raw with hot sauce like coconut sriracha.
Different Ways to Cook Eggplant
Now that you’re familiar with the various types of eggplant, let’s explore different cooking methods to bring out their delicious flavors.
How to Cook Eggplant – Grill
Grilling is an excellent option if you love that extra char on your eggplant. It’s simple and enjoyable. For a side dish at your barbecue party, grill 1-inch slices of eggplant over medium heat for about 8 minutes on each side. Avoid constant touching or moving, as it won’t allow the signature grill marks to develop properly.
How to Cook Eggplant – Stir-fry
Stir-frying is perfect when you have Chinese or Japanese eggplants. Here’s a quick recipe for a basic eggplant stir-fry: Slice the eggplant into 1-inch thick chunks and heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of vegetable oil, eggplant chunks, and finely chopped garlic. Season with soy sauce and pepper. Stir and toss for 10-15 minutes, then garnish with sliced scallions and toasted seeds like sesame seeds.
How to Cook Eggplant – Roast
Roasting is a delicious and easy method to cook eggplant, resulting in a browned and intense flavor. Preheat your oven to 400°F | 200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch slices and place them evenly on the tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 30-40 minutes until tender. Roasted eggplant can be enjoyed as a meal, side dish, or added to pasta or salads.
How to Cook Eggplant – Bake
Baking eggplant at a lower temperature is perfect when you want to add toppings like cheese, onion, or bacon bits. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into long 1-inch slices. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the slices evenly. Bake in a 375°F | 190°C oven for 20-30 minutes. You can then add your favorite toppings or create a delightful baked eggplant parmesan. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, and your dish will be ready to enjoy.
How to Cook Eggplant – Fry
Fried eggplant slices are a delicious dish that truly showcases the vegetable’s flavors. For a classic Italian-style fried eggplant, slice the eggplant horizontally into 1-inch discs. Prepare three bowls – one with cornstarch, one with lightly whisked egg, and the last one with breadcrumbs mixed with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and oregano to taste. Dip each piece of eggplant into the cornstarch, followed by the egg and breadcrumbs mixture. Shallow fry the breaded eggplant pieces in a pan with hot vegetable oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy it hot and crispy!
TIPS: Make sure the oil is hot before adding the eggplant, and avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook the eggplant in batches to ensure each piece crisps up nicely. Also, be cautious not to make the pan too hot, as it may brown the outside without adequately cooking the inside.
How to Cook Eggplant – Tips
To make the most out of your eggplant cooking adventures, here are some helpful tips:
How to Choose Good Eggplant
For the best results, always select fresh produce. When choosing eggplant, look for smooth and tight skin without blemishes or greyish spots. Give it a gentle touch – if the eggplant feels firm with a slight sponginess, it’s perfect. A soft texture might indicate that the eggplant is not in good condition.
Should I Peel Eggplant?
The decision to peel or not to peel eggplant is entirely up to you. Some people prefer the skin, while others don’t. The skin adds an interesting texture and intensifies the smokiness when roasted or grilled. Feel free to leave it on and enjoy the contrast it offers.
How to Prevent Eggplant from Turning Brown
Eggplant can darken in color due to oxidation, but it’s nothing to worry about. To prevent browning, soak your eggplant in lightly salted water after cutting or slicing it. Alternatively, you can rub the eggplant pieces with salt. This process not only prevents browning but also draws out excess moisture.
Why Does Eggplant Become Oily?
Eggplant acts like a sponge and can absorb oil excessively, resulting in a greasy and soggy texture. To prevent this, rub a small amount of oil onto the eggplant just before cooking. This way, each side will have enough oil to cook without becoming greasy and unhealthy.
How to Store Eggplant
Store unwashed and uncut eggplant in the crisper section of your refrigerator. If it doesn’t fit, you can place it on the shelf without squeezing it. Properly stored, eggplant can last for at least a week, maintaining its freshness.
Can You Freeze Eggplant?
Yes, you can freeze eggplant! However, keep in mind that frozen eggplant becomes somewhat mushy when cooked. This is not a problem if you’re making dips or pasta sauces. For roasted eggplant or dishes that require the vegetable to hold its shape, use fresh eggplant.
Here’s a simple guide to freezing eggplant:
- Bring a pot of water and lemon juice to a boil (use the juice of ¼ lemon for every 4 cups of water).
- Wash and cut the eggplants into 1-inch pieces or slices.
- Blanch the eggplant pieces in the boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Drain and shock them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and preserve their texture.
- Pat the eggplant pieces dry with a paper towel.
- Place them in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag and store them in the freezer.
- When you’re ready to use them, lay the frozen eggplant pieces directly onto a baking tray and cook them without thawing.
How to Cook Eggplant – In Conclusion
Now that you know how to cook eggplant, get ready to incorporate it into all your favorite dishes. Whether you’re grilling, stir-frying, roasting, baking, or frying, eggplant is a delicious and versatile ingredient that adds a unique flavor to any meal.
So go ahead, buy some fresh eggplants, and indulge in the wonderful flavors they offer. Bon appétit!
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