In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How to cook eggplant?” and will discuss different ways to cook eggplant.
How to cook eggplant?”
Eggplant can be cooked in a variety of ways. You can bake, grill, boil and fry the eggplant to get the maximum nutrients out of it.
Food processing increases the amount of calories accessible from raw foods and decreases the energy needed for food digestion. Heat-treatment has also some important benefits involving the increase of food safety and quality, and the reduction of contamination risk. In contrast, thermal processes may result in undesired chemical reactions leading to the loss of some nutrients. In the case of eggplant, the cooking method affects the concentration of some phenolic compounds (1).
Fresh eggplants are available year-round at the grocery store, but they’re at their best in late summer. Eggplant cultivars produce fruits in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Eggplants may be large or small, round, pear-shaped, or elongated, purple, lavender, black, yellow, white, maroon, or even striped. Like other members of the family Solanaceae, its leaves and flowers are poisonous (2).
The huge, dark-purple globe eggplant is the most common. Smooth, lustrous skins with fresh-looking stems and no blemishes are ideal. In your palm, the fruit (eggplant is a berry!) should feel substantial. When you push down on the skin, it should feel firm yet yield slightly before rebounding. If you’re not going to use your eggplant right away, keep it in the crisper of your refrigerator for up to five days—any longer and the eggplant will get bitter.
The most abundant phenolic compounds identified in eggplant were hydroxycinnamic acid-derivatives (mainly conjugated with quinic acids or amides) and anthocyanins (mainly delphinidin-derivatives). Eggplant has been suggested to have plenty of health benefits, playing a significant role in the prevention of chronic diseases. Several beneficial effects have been ascribed to eggplant phenolic compounds on human health, including antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective activities (1).
Getting Eggplants Ready
Is it necessary to peel eggplant before cooking it? You don’t have it. The skin is completely edible; however, it might be a touch rough on bigger eggplants. If your eggplant is young, sensitive, and petite, you may probably leave the nutrient-rich peel on for pan-frying or braising. If not, peel the skin before slicing or cubing the meat.
The flesh should be creamy and light, with no imperfections. Remove any black or damaged areas, as well as any seeds that are turning brown, since they might have a harsh flavor and texture. If you’re roasting the eggplant whole in the oven or on the grill, leave the skin on and remove the meat when it has cooled.
Is it better to salt or not to salt eggplant?
This is a contentious issue. There are a few advantages to salting your eggplant slices or cubes. For starters, it extracts fluids, which may be harsh, especially in older eggplants. It also tightens and hardens the flesh, reducing the amount of oil absorbed by the eggplant. Salt, on the other hand, enhances the taste.
A study showed that the treatment of eggplant rings under 4% sodium chloride for 3 minutes could effectively reduce the amount of oil absorbed by the rings during deep oil frying. By using electronic microscopy, it was revealed that the eggplant rings lost a considerable quantity of surface available for the oil absorption after they were pretreated, thus absorbing less oil than non-treated samples (3).
Many chefs, however, argue that newer types are not as bitter as older species and that salting them makes little difference. Without salting, Japanese and Chinese eggplant varieties should be good. Experiment with globe eggplants to see what you can come up with.
If you want to salt your eggplant, slice or cube it first, then liberally salts it, letting it lay in a strainer for at least an hour, ideally longer. Salted eggplant can remain in the refrigerator for hours without losing its flavor or texture. However, before cooking the eggplant, thoroughly rinse it to remove the salt. The slices should then be placed between sheets of paper towel and gently pressed to remove fluids and firm the meat. When frying eggplant slices or cubes, this is very critical.
How to Cook Eggplant in a Pan?
Eggplant slices absorb oil like sponges. Even lightly salted, hand-pressed slices will absorb a lot of oil. Brush olive oil on one side of eggplant slices to reduce the amount of oil needed; then lay them oil-side down in a hot skillet without crowding them (a crowded pan will cause the slices to steam rather than fry). Just before rotating, brush the upside. The oil will just sink into the skin if you brush both sides at the start. Fry the pieces until they are well browned.
Deep-frying eggplant slices and cubes is another option. The super-hot oil rapidly browns the top, encasing the flesh and sealing in the moisture, leaving slices that aren’t notably greasier than pan-fried slices.
A study compared the effect of domestic cooking methods on the phenolic compounds of eggplant. Results showed that frying increased the recovery of total phenolic compounds in eggplants by circa 68%. It can be supposed that frying may affect the cell-wall structure of eggplant, leading to depolymerization of polysaccharides and promoting the release of bound phenolic compounds (1).
Eggplant Roasting Techniques
In the oven, how do you cook eggplant? There are a handful of options. To roast entire eggplants in the oven, leave the skin on and roast at 400°F (200°C) until the skin wrinkles and collapses in on the softened fruit. This procedure yields silky smooth eggplant dips or spreads as well.
Eggplant Baking Instructions
To bake eggplant, cut it into rounds or strips and prepare it according to the recipe’s instructions, such as dredging it in egg and breadcrumbs or just brushing it with olive oil and baking it at 350 degrees F.
“For a substantial Italian-inspired supper, eggplant slices are covered with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and baked between layers of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese,” explains Dollface. “To taste, add fresh garlic and basil. In the sauce, I add 2 to 4 garlic cloves fresh and 5 to 10 basil leaves freshly gathered. A layer of fresh basil in one of the layers gives a lot of ‘fresh’ taste!”
Compared to frying, baking or grilling can more intensively change the phenolic compounds in the eggplant. A study showed that during grilling and baking of eggplant, a 45–55% loss of caffeoylquinic acids was observed, with the concurrent formation of the oxidation products caffeoylquinic acid dehydrodimers. In the context of baking and grilling, caffeoylquinic acids may also have taken part in the Maillard reaction, contributing to the observed reduction of caffeoylquinic acid levels (1).
Eggplant on the Grill: How to Cook It
Treat eggplant the same way you would roast eggplant while grilling it. Brush sliced eggplant (skin on!) with a little olive oil. then grill until the fruit is beautifully browned and the skin creases over a fire
Other FAQs about Eggplant that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How to cook eggplant?” and discussed different ways to cook eggplant.
- Martini, Serena, et al. Domestic cooking methods affect the stability and bioaccessibility of dark purple eggplant (Solanum melongena) phenolic compounds. Food Chem, 2021, 341, 128298.
- Eggplant. University of Florida.
- Eissa, Hesham A., et al. Optimizing oil reduction in fried eggplant rings. J App Sci Res, 2013, 9, 3708-3717.