Th eggplant is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. Also called the aubergine or patlican in some countries, the eggplant is a versatile vegetable. Well, actually, the eggplant is technically a fruit, but like the tomato, it is referred to as a vegetable.
Selecting the Right Eggplant
When at the market shopping for eggplant, choose eggplant that:
- Do not have brown spots on the skin or stem
- Green stem that is free of mold
- Skin that is shiny and smooth without bruises or blemishes
- Skin that is resilient and bounces back when you apply gentle pressure
- Heavy for size of eggplant
Smaller eggplant generally are less bitter than larger ones because they have fewer seeds. However, if you soak eggplant in water and salt it prior to cooking, much of the bitterness is eliminated.
Eggplant spoils fast, so its best to buy them no more than a few days prior to use. It's best to store eggplant in the crisper of the refrigerator, unwrapped. It can last up to a week or longer when stored properly.
Eggplant cannot be stored in the freezer, unless cooked.
Cooking with Eggplant
In Middle Eastern cooking, you will find eggplants that are stuffed, fried, in salads, soups, and many other delicious dishes.
Because the eggplant is bitter, after slicing the eggplant, soak the eggplant in heavily salted water. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. This will remove much of the bitter taste.
Eggplant skin and flesh is extremely absorbent to oil and other ingredients. This make is perfect for stuffing or in sauces, soups, and casseroles.