I love eggplant, but always thought it had to be salted, pressed and fried or baked. Cookbooks always talk about bitter juices that need to be leeched out. The recipe for Coucharas (see recipe list) calls for steaming eggplant until it is very soft so that the pulp can be mashed and combined with other ingredients.
Now with an abundance of eggplant, both Black Beauty and Japanese, in my garden, I looked for some simple eggplant recipes. Maybe everyone else in the world knows how incredible lightly steamed eggplant is, but I just found out!
I took a Black Beauty (globe) eggplant that I’d harvested the week before and was beginning to go soft, cut off the stem end and quartered it lengthwise. I steamed the slices for 8 minutes (no more than 10!).
The texture was silky and smooth, not at all bitter and incredibly light. Over the top of the quarters I spooned a very easy sauce. The eggplant, which is notoriously spongy, soaked up the sauce. Slicing the eggplant, skin and all, was a dream and eating it was sublime.
It was so good in fact that I did the same with Japanese eggplant the next night, but instead of quartering them, I cut them into bite-sized chunks, then after steaming poured the sauce over them in a bowl and stirred them around to absorb the sauce. I served both with very thin noodles. Photos of cooked eggplant are rarely delicious-looking, so you’ll have to let your imagination guide you.
There are many sauce mixtures on the Internet, but here is mine:
- One large Black Beauty eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants
- 2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
- ⅛th cup Bragg's Amino Acids, Tamari Sauce or low-salt soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- If you like garlic, dice or grate a small clove and add it in. You can also include chili paste to taste.
- Fresh cilantro (optional)
- Toasted sesame seeds (optonal)
- Cut stem end(s) off the eggplant
- If using one large eggplant, cut it into quarters long-wise from end-to-end. If using long eggplant, cut into ¾" - 1" bite-sized chunks. Do not peel.
- Steam eggplant for 8-10 minutes until a knife easily slides into the skin; do not overcook!
- Meanwhile, mix all sauce ingredients except cilantro or sesame seeds, if using.
- Plate the eggplant quarters and drizzle the sauce over the top slowly so it absorbs, or put chunks in bowl and mix with sauce, then plate. Offer extra sauce separately.
- Sprinkle with fresh, chopped cilantro and/or toasted sesame seeds.
- Very good with noodles or rice.