A Guide To Buying And Cooking Eggplant
With its slightly bitter taste, spongy texture, and its (usually) gorgeous appearance, eggplant is a versatile vegetable. It is available in many colors and sizes, from jade green to orange (and yes, it’s more common deep purple), from melon sized to tomato sized.
But whatever type of eggplant is selected, the vegetable is typically used to balance other flavors; rarely does it take center stage.
How to Buy Eggplant
Select eggplants that are vivid in color and have shiny, smooth skin. The stem and bottom cap should be bright green. The eggplant should feel heavy in your hand and when you press into the vegetable, it should spring back. Avoid eggplants with scars or any discoloration.
How to Store Eggplant
Ideally, eggplants should be stored at 50 degrees F. Do not wash or cut into the eggplant before storing it, since any damage to the outer skin makes the vegetable decompose faster.
How to Prepare Eggplant
Carbon knives react with eggplant flesh, so always use a steel knife to cut the vegetable.
Eggplants that are large or white skinned typically have tough skin that should be removed. Otherwise, personal preference dictates whether or not to remove the vegetable’s skin. If the eggplant will be baked, it’s usually easiest to cook it with the skin on, then scoop out the flesh. Otherwise, you can remove all the skin with a peeler; some chefs like to peel a row of skin off, then leave a row of skin on.
To cut down on an eggplant’s bitter flavor, tenderize the flesh, and prevent the vegetable from becoming overly oily, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to sit for about half an hour. Then rinse the eggplant in cool water, squeezing the pieces gently. Pat dry.
How to Cook Eggplant
Eggplant can be roasted whole by piercing the vegetable with a fork at least 5 or 6 times and placing it on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven until it begins collapsing, about 50 – 60 minutes.
To grill eggplant, brush slices with olive oil and place over medium heat until soft.
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