Eggplant is delicious cooked properly but can also be a handful to deal with. We’ve all had good eggplant in a restaurant and then faced tough questions when trying to replicate the magic at home. How do you keep them from being spongy or mushy? Do they really need a deep fryer’s worth of oil to make one taste good? Isn’t anything delicious when you dump parmesan on top of it? Here’s what you need to know to cook eggplant like a pro:
- Tame the texture. Eggplants have a great flavor buried within their fibrous and dense texture. This means that when you’re cooking them, you’ll need either a lot of time or a high heat to mellow out the temperature. The best way to do this is by a long roast in the oven, a grill at high temperature, or a stovetop slow cook like ratatouille (Pixar got it right!).
- Be nice and cook it twice! We’re big fans of cooking eggplant twice, as it prevents your eggplant from ending up fibrous or mushy and gives you more chances to add flavor along the way. The first round of cooking will tenderize your eggplant, so you can just focus on flavor and finishing touches with round two. Try steaming or grilling your eggplant before you sauté it and you’ll see what we mean. Our favorite recipe that incorporates this method? Smoky, spicy Baingan Bharta!
- Season with no fear. Eggplants can sense fear. If you season them timidly you’re in for boring, mushy, bland eggplant. Since they have so much fiber and a somewhat bitter aftertaste, you have to be generous with herbs and spices to make your eggplant truly shine. Bold flavors that work well with eggplant are things like garlic, ginger, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic, and soy or miso.
- Score and salt. One time-tested way to accomplish your #eggplantgoals is to score your eggplant with a knife and then salt it before cooking. This will help draw out a lot of that pesky water, allow your eggplant to absorb more spices and seasonings, and help it cook more quickly and more evenly.
With a little knife work, know-how, and a liberal use of spices you can turn even the most fibrous and intimidating vegetables like into delightful dishes that win friends and influence people. We hope you’re inspired to go out there and take on the eggplants of the world. We can’t wait to hear about what you make for dinner next!