Information about Eggplants
Also known as aubergine in the UK, brinjal in Indian cooking and field egg in West Africa, the eggplant is related to tomatoes and potatoes.
The first mention of their cultivation is in China in 5 BC, and one of the early vegetables in China and they are thought to have been eaten in India long before that. The Moors introduced the eggplant to Spain some 1200 years ago and it was grown in Andalucia. It is likely that they also introduced it to Italy and possibly from there to other southern and eastern parts of Europe.
The versatility of eggplant has made it widely used ingredients in Mediterranean, Italian, French and Middle Eastern cuisines. Aubergine can be served hot or cold, pureed, fried, stuffed or battered and they are the main ingredients of many famous dishes such as moussaka, baba ghanoush and ratatouille
There are many different varieties of eggplants, differing in colour , size and shape according to their country of origin.
- Small ivory-white and plump eggplants look large egg
- Pretty striped eggplant eggplant may be either purple or pink and flecked with white irregular stripes.
- The Japanese or Asian eggplant is straight and very narrow ranging in colour from white to solid purple.
Although they come in different shape and colour, all eggplant have a similar flavour and texture. they taste bland yet slightly smoky when cooked and the flesh is spongy to touch when raw but soft after cooking.
Eggplants are filling yet low in kilojoules – 100g has only 65 kilojoules. The skin provides some folate and fibre.
Preparing and Cooking
- When frying eggplant for any dish where they need slicing, it is a good idea to salt the slices first in order to draw out some of their moisture otherwise, they absorb enormous quantities of oil during cooking, but salting reduces this slightly.
How to salt eggplant: Cut into slices, sprinkle generously with salt. Leave them to drain in a colander for about one hour, then rinse well and gently squeeze out the moisture from each slice or carefully pat dry with paper towel.
To Fry:Slice, Cube or dice the eggplant Heat a thin covering of olive oil in a frying pan, then put the eggplant, turn slices almost immediately, sot that they are evenly coated in the oil or toss cubes continuously.
To Roast: Cut slices into wedges and brush generously with oil. Roast with garlic, onion wedges and bay leaves, tossing the mixture frequently until the eggplant wedges are well browned and tender.
To roast whole eggplant brush them with olive oil and cook fairly slowly until completely tender, turning occasionally
Stuffed Eggplant : Halved the eggplant lengthwise, then you can scooped the flesh out and combined with other ingredients (e.g. minced meat) then returned to the shell and baked until tender.
Selection and Storage
- Look for firm shinny and smooth skin
- The stalk end should be green not heavily tinged with brown and firm
- The eggplant itself should feel firm
- Avoid wrinkled vegetables and check for any small brown patches as this indicates points where the flesh is beginning to deteriorate.
- Store the vegetables unwrapped in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator they usually keep for up to a week.
- Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce: Recipe - Try this easy to make recipe by Bob Ewing.