Wednesday, June 25, 2008
AN EGGPLANT RECIPE FOR EGGPLANT HATERS & A SOLUTION TO EGGPLANT SOAKING UP OIL LIKE A SPONGE
We will all, along with Mary McDougall, be demonstrating flavorful, no-fat-added recipes for the participants to recreate at home. I'm doing a workshop on breakfast foods on Saturday morning, and a work shop on "The Elegant Bean" on Sunday.
So, I'll be filling you in when I get back! In the meantime, I'm posting a delicious eggplant dish that I made the other day. A medical practitioner recommended that my husband eat more eggplant. Now, I've been telling him that for ages, because eggplant is a great source of viscous fiber-- "the 'sticky' type of soluble fiber found in oats, barley and beans, and certain vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Viscous fibers help binding the cholesterol in your digestive tract and sweep it out of your body. In another word, soluble fiber act as a sponge, absorbing cholesterol and carrying it out of your system. People at less-developed countries (such as China) are less prone to having high blood cholesterol because their diet are high on viscous fiber." http://foodheal.blogspot.com/2006/07/eating-to-lower-cholesterol-1-viscous.html You can read more scientific stuff about this here, and about the "Portfolio Diet" which followed that research.
I love eggplant, but DH has only eaten it reluctantly, except when I make Szechuan eggplant, which he does like. So I thought I'd start out with a stir-fry. I found the following recipe on a great website called "Ashbury's Aubergines" that has thousands of eggplant (aubergine) recipes!
I wanted to cut down the oil a bit, so I experimented with a technique I read about in Cook's Illustrated magazine. Eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge-- as the authors say, "it's essentially a sponge, ready to absorb anything, and it's packed with water. This one-two punch transforms the eggplant into oil-soaked mush before it has a chance to caramelize."
"The Solution: First we needed to dehydrate the eggplant, but the traditional salting method didn't sufficiently dry it out. Combining salting and microwaving did work— after we put a few disposable coffee filters under the eggplant to keep it from poaching in its leached-out liquid. The eggplant (now reduced to a third its original size) could be sautéed in a much smaller amount of oil (1 tablespoon vs. nearly 1/2 cup). The eggplant plumped up nicely when added back to the other vegetables to stew, absorbing these other flavors instead of just oil."
So, what you do is, cut your eggplant into chunks or strips and toss it with a bit of kosher salt in bowl. Line entire surface of large microwave-safe plate with double layer of [unbleached] coffee filters and lightly spray with oil from a pump sprayer. Spread the eggplant in one even layer over the filters. Microwave on high until the eggplant is dry and shriveled to one-third of its size, 8 to 15 minutes (the eggplant should not brown). (If your microwave has no turntable, rotate the plate after 5 minutes.) Use in your recipe. It worked!
(PS: For anyone who is still afraid of using a microwave oven, here's some information you may be interested to read.)
BRAISED EGGPLANT WITH SUNDRIED TOMATOES, BRYANNA'S VERSION
This was delicious and DH loved it, even though heclaims to hat eggplant.
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into strips and prepared as above
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced (I washed the oil off with hot water and patted them dry)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small tomato, peeled
seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook over high heat until the garlic is soft. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and prepared eggplant (see text above). Turn the heat to medium. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until the eggplant is tender. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar to the skillet. Cook until the liquid is almost absorbed. Add tomato and parsley or cilantro. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
I served this with brown basmati rice, but it would be great cold with baguettes or pita bread or rye crisp!
Enjoy and have a great week!