Kitchen Basics: Eggplant

September 24, 2012

In her biweekly column, Kitchen Basics, Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen demystifies essential cooking skills with step-by-step instructions and her own handsome photos. Whether she's showing us how much brown sugar we're meant to "pack"(or is it cram?) into measuring cups or how to detect when our onions are properly caramelized, Susan is the nonna we never had -- until now. Now, go on and get cozy under her wing.

This week, Susan demonstrates how to peel, slice, and salt eggplant.

eggplant

- Susan

By late September, I start to crave cozy things and look for reasons to turn on the stove. Eggplants, with their endless variety (creamy, meaty, lanky, squat) and versatility lead me right into kitchen. Beloved by millions, recipes for baba ghanoush, moussaka, and other sublime eggplant-centric dishes take me around the world.

How to Select and Store Eggplant

Although eggplant is available year-round, its peak season is during the late summer and early fall. When selecting eggplant, be sure to check that the skin is smooth and taut. If it’s ripe, gently (and affectionately) squeezing the flesh will leave a shallow, temporary indentation.

How to Peel, Slice, and Salt Eggplant

In the U.S., the voluptuous pear-shaped globe eggplant is the easiest to find. Its purple-black skin becomes chewy when cooked, so it’s often removed. Its springy, porous flesh sucks in oil, so to keep it from becoming greasy when cooked, eggplant is often salted, rinsed, and dried before cooking.

Place the eggplant on its side on a cutting board. Slice of the stem and the rounded end. 

eggplant eggplant

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin in long strips, moving lengthwise from the stem to bottom end.

peel eggplant

Slice across the eggplant crosswise.

eggplant slicing

Place slices in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt -- enough to ensure each slice has been dusted. Let the eggplant sit with the salt for about 15 minutes. (You will see water beads appear on the eggplant's surface.)

salt eggplant

Rinse the salt from the eggplant and thoroughly dry it before cooking.

How to Cube Eggplant

Place the eggplant on its side on a cutting board, slice off the ends, and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, as above. 

Rest the bottom end of the eggplant on the cutting board. Cut down through the eggplant lengthwise, every half inch, to create planks. 

eggplant slicing

eggplant

Stack two planks on the cutting board and slice across them lengthwise, creating half-inch wide sticks. 

eggplant

Cut across the sticks, every half inch, to create half-inch cubes.

eggplant cubes 

Place the eggplant cubes in a colander. Sprinkle with salt, wait about 15 minutes, and then rinse off the salt and thoroughly dry the eggplant before cooking.

breaded eggplant slices
Eggplant slices coated in homemade bread crumbs

I’d love to see your tips for prepping eggplant! Share them with your fellow cooks in the comments section below.

Are you new to cooking? Tell me what skills you'd like to learn and your idea could be featured in an upcoming post!

Photos by Susan Pachikara.

Want more basic tips from Susan? Check out her previous post: Kitchen Basics: Bread Crumbs.

Susan writes the blog Cardamom Kitchen to share her culinary experiences as an Indian-American rooted in the Midwest. 

susan cardamom kitchen

2 Comments Add a Comment
  • Missing_avatar

    Lisa Cohoe says: You have inspired me to try eggplant. I didn't realize I needed to salt the eggplant, wait and rinse before cooking. Thanks Susan.

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • S2

    Susan_P says: Wonderful, Lisa! Let us know what you end up making. Cheers, Susan

    about 1 year ago

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