I love eggplant,
absolutely love it. It's unfortunate that so many people have been
put off by poorly-prepared, bitter eggplant. The bitterness is caused
by a concentration of mild toxins in the fruit when it has grown
too slowly. A few basic tips about eggplant (also known as aubergine
- Pick relatively
small, heavy, dark eggplants.
- You can "degorge"
it to remove the bitterness. Cut into cubes or slices and sprinkle
with salt, then leave for an hour or so to sweat out the toxins.
Rinse it well to wash away both the bitterness and excessive salt.
Pat dry before use.
A very simple
and delicious eggplant dish is Baba Ganoush, also spelled
Baba Ghanooj and various other spellings. This dish is popular all
over the Middle East and Mediterranean, and varies hugely. I like
it to taste strongly smoky. When I lived in Redfern, an inner-city
suburb of Sydney, my corner store was run by a Turkish couple who
made their Baba Ganoush by blackening whole eggplants in a wood
fire in a 44-gallon drum. I'm surprised the smoke didn't bring the
fire brigade, but perhaps it smelled so good no-one ever complained!
Perhaps you could try this method next time you're having an outdoor
barbeque, or even when camping? Makes an exotic change from the
old fire-baked potatoes!
For the urban,
indoor version, an oven is just fine.
Keep the eggplant
the skin all over with a knife and place in a baking dish. Drizzle
with a little oil, as this will speed up the cooking process. Cook
in a moderate oven from 40 minutes to two hours. How long you cook
it depends on your preference for degree of smoke-flavour. It should
have collapsed and halved in size. Allow to cool enough to handle,
then carefully cut it open and scoop out the flesh, discarding the
Add the following
- Garlic (I
use roasted garlic, tossed in with the eggplant & oil - but
flakes, fresh or powder are also OK)
- A little
Unsweetened Low Fat Yoghurt
version: Double Cream, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Sesame Oil
Tahini (Sesame Paste), Olive Oil, Lemon Juice.
If your eggplant
is well enough cooked, you can just mash it all together with a
fork. If you prefer a smoother texture, you can use a food processor.
Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle of paprika.
smoky eggplant puree is great as a dip or spread. Some people have
an allergic reaction to eggplant though, so be sure to check with
your guests for any food sensitivities before serving.