My dad always says you can judge a pizzeria by the quality of its eggplant, weather its on a pizza, on a hero, or eggplant parmesan. So, when I had the craving to make eggplant for dinner last week I felt a bit of pressure for quality and knew it is a dish that can turn out less than good. I didn’t let that stop me as eggplant is one of my favorite foods and I’ve wanted it ever since spotting some in the city square market.
I learned that the first key to good eggplant is draining out the bitterness. Once you cut them (And peel, if you choose) you sprinkle salt on each piece to make it sweat out a dark juice. This meant having two colanders sitting around and waiting for 30-60 minutes for each one, then rotating in the next batch.
Something to do in advance, before you are actually prepping or else it will feel incredibly stressful and tedious to wait for since you can’t do much else until after it is done. Make sure to pat them completely dry with paper towels when you are finished. You can set up the bowls for breadcrumbs with flour & seasoning and one for the beaten egg. Don’t forget to set up an area with paper towels to place the eggplant on to absorb the access oil.
The second key is the thickness of the slices. They should be 1/4 – 1/2 inch (between .6 and 1 cm) and all uniform thickness to cook evenly. I think I cut mine a little bit too thick, on the 1/2 side. As you can see in the photo above I must have gotten tired because I had a monstrously thick slice in the mix. Don’t do that :)
I think next time I will cut the slices length wise instead, should make it easier and quicker- both to fry and to place in the dish.
When I finished frying up each slice of eggplant (2-3 minutes on each side in oil) I realized that while this is one of my favorites my husband might not like it, ya know…since there is no meat! When he came home and saw the cooking process (aka, The Big Mess) he asked what I was making and “Is that all?” I could tell he was hesitant.
Over all it is a pretty time consuming dish to make and I have to admit I was frustrated and found it tedious by the end. Now that I know what to expect though it won’t be so bad.
Thankfully it was a success and he admitted that he was sad to have a vegetarian meal but that he liked it a lot and it was better than he expected. Overall the dish came out yummy enough to put up with the peeling/draining/frying process, (and the mess) the rest is easy – just make sure you have enough sauce!
Is eggplant a common food in Sweden? I was a little surprised to see it at the city market but I don’t recall ever seeing it where I buy groceries. Does anyone else have any eggplant recipes to share? Suggestions? Eggplant parm had to find its way into my recipe book- I’m looking on improving it before then though!