Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is It Hot in Here, or is it Just My Eggplant?

To sweat or not to sweat? Eggplant, that is. There are zillions of opinions on the subject, and from my research, there doesn't seem to be one right way to wrangle an eggplant. Sweating, salting, or degorging (eew) an eggplant means simply to salt it on both sides, and wait a few minutes for the salt to draw out excess water, along with bitterness that comes from the dark seeds inside. Some say that when using smaller, younger eggplants it isn't necessary to salt them first, because they contain fewer seeds, and are more firm than larger, older eggplants, meaning there's less moisture to be drawn out. Peeling the eggplant also appears to be optional, and in most cases, I'm all for leaving the skins on vegetables whenever I can. It's easier, and leaves more of the nutrients in the food.

Whether you prefer to salt or peel is up to you. I found conflicting information all over the internet, and even found a difference in opinion between the infallible Julia Child and Eleonora Consoli, the Italian cookbook author from Sicily. I've always sliced my peeled-or-un-peeled, salted-or-un-salted eggplants in nice rounds, but have learned that it's better to slice them lengthwise, so the fibers inside can't soak up as much salt or oil. Grazie, Signora Consoli.

If you decide to sweat your next eggplant, I recommend taking a lesson from the Italian pro. This link to the article, Fry Eggplants Like A Sicilian Mama will take you from slicing and salting to perfectly frying in hot (not olive) oil. I don't fry our food very often, but next time I feel the urge, this is what I'll try. For now I'm content to grill my sweated eggplants, and serve them up in a nice toasty sandwich.

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