How to cook eggplant the right way? You're in the right hands! In this article, not only will I share with you my mom’s roasted eggplant recipe, but also other simple ways you can successfully cook eggplant.
How to Cook Eggplant - Grill, Bake, Roast & Stir-fry
Perfectly cooked and seasoned eggplant is delicious. And if you happen to think otherwise, wait until you try my mom’s delicious roasted eggplant recipe. As well as this dish I'll also explain to you the other simple ways that you can grill, bake, roast, shallow fry, and stirfry eggplant.
Note: Eggplant is also known as aubergine in Europe.
Types of Eggplant
- Globe Eggplant - Globe eggplant is sometimes referred to as American eggplant or just “eggplant”. And as the name might suggest, this type of eggplant is rounded in shape. It’s big and fat, which makes it ideal to be sliced lengthwise. It has dark purple but shiny skin. The flesh is firm and meaty, very versatile. Roast it, bake it, grill it, fry it, anything you like.
- Italian Eggplant - In terms of shape and size, Italian eggplant is quite similar to globe eggplant. Though they’re interchangeable in most recipes, Italian eggplant is slightly sweeter and more tender. It’s the perfect eggplant to make lasagna and eggplant parmesan.
- Japanese Eggplant - Japanese eggplant or Chinese eggplant is characterized by its thin and long shape. It’s sweeter and creamier than your normal eggplant. This type of eggplant is widely used throughout East and Southeast Asia. It’s particularly great for stir-frying and braising.
- Graffiti Eggplant - Graffiti eggplant gets its name from its unique skin color. It has a beautiful violet hue with white stripes. Unfortunately, the skin color does disappear when cooked. This type of eggplant is very versatile. You can use graffiti eggplant for almost any eggplant dish.
- Fairy Tale Eggplant - Small, cute, stunning, and delicious. Fairy tale eggplant is just otherworldly, hence the name. It has a violet color with mottled white stripes. The flesh is creamy and sweet, perfect for sauteing, stir-frying, and grilling.
- Thai Eggplant - They're perfectly round and green and tiny. They can be hard to find at a regular supermarket in the States, but you might find them at your local Asian grocer. It’s the eggplant you need to use to make authentic Thai green curry. But you can also stir fry them with tomato and basil, or simply eat them raw (yes, RAW!) with hot sauce like coconut sriracha.
Different Ways to Cook Eggplant
How to Cook Eggplant - Grill
Grilling is always a great option, especially if you love extra char on your eggplant. It’s also very easy and fun to do. In fact, I always serve chargrilled eggplant as a side dish whenever I’m throwing a barbeque party. Grill 1-inch slices of eggplant over medium heat for approximately 8 minutes on each side. Don’t keep touching or moving the eggplant, or else the signature grill marks won’t develop properly.
How to Cook Eggplant - Stir-fry
Stir-frying is ideal when you’ve got yourself a bunch of Chinese or Japanese eggplants. Here’s a quick recipe for basic eggplant stir-fry, in which you can add whatever other ingredients you want… from different types of onion to capsicum, from tofu to meat. Slice the eggplant into 1-inch thick chunks. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, add a splash of vegetable oil, eggplant chunks, and finely chopped garlic. Season with soy sauce and pepper. Stir and toss for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with finely sliced scallions and toasted types of seeds such as sesame seeds.
How to Cook Eggplant - Roast
Roasting is a delicious and easy method to cook eggplant that creates a browned and intense taste. Preheat the oven to 400°F |200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch slices and evenly place on the baking tray. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
The eggplant will transform into a delicious meal, side dish, or can be a great addition to other dishes such as pasta or salads.
Growing up, my mom’s roasted eggplant was one of my favorite dishes… and it still is! It’s very simple, nothing fancy, really. But oh boy, the tenderness! It literally melts in your mouth without being mushy or gooey. Not to mention the flavor… sweet, savory, and smokey - everything you want from a roasted vegetable.
- 1 large eggplant - I use globe eggplant. It’s tender and widely available. But you can use any kind of round-shaped eggplant that you have.
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce - This is the secret ingredient for that umami kick and sweetly caramelized edges.
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika - The paprika is optional, but it truly gives a beautiful smoky flavor and aroma. You can also go basic with freshly ground black pepper or go fire-y with a sprinkling of chili flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Cut off the stem, then slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1-inch thick slices. Don’t slice it too thin; the slices will shrink in size when cooked.
- Lay the eggplant slices on a wire rack. Sprinkle and rub each side of the slices with salt and let them sit for 30 minutes to drain their “bitter juice”. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F | 200°C.
- Rinse the eggplant slices under cool water. Pat them dry with paper towel… and I mean, very very dry. Excess moisture on the surface will prevent the browning and caramelization process.
- Spread out the eggplant slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper. It’s important not to overlay and overcrowd the tray.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, soy sauce, and smoked paprika. Brush onto both the sides and edges of the eggplant.
- Roast the eggplant for 20 minutes, then take them out. Carefully turn each slice over (I like to use a spatula) and continue roasting them until golden brown and tender for another 10 to 20 minutes.
How to Cook Eggplant - Bake
Baked eggplant, cooked at a lower temperature than roasted eggplant, is a great cooking method if you want to add toppings to your eggplant like cheese, onion, or bacon bits. Baking will make your eggplant tender and juicier than roasting. Slice the eggplant lengthwise to make long 1-inch slices. Line a tray with parchment paper for easy clean up after cooking, and evenly place the slices on a baking tray. Bake in a 375°F | 190°C oven for 20- 30 minutes. Add your extra toppings or make it into baked eggplant parmesan and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
How to Cook Eggplant - Fry
Fried eggplant slices make a delicious dish that really allows the eggplant to shine. I have always loved classic Italian-style fried eggplant that has a nice light breading coating that incorporates garlic and oregano.
- Slice the eggplant horizontally to make 1-inch discs.
- Prepare 3 bowls - one with cornstarch (cornflour), one with a lightly whisked egg, and the final bowl with breadcrumbs (with added salt, pepper, minced garlic, and oregano to your taste).
- Dip each piece of eggplant into the cornstarch followed by the egg and then the crumb mixture.
- Heat a large shallow fry pan with vegetable oil. Evenly place the breaded eggplant pieces into the pan.
- Once one side is brown, turn over and shallow fry the other side.
- Drain on paper towel before serving. Serve hot! Delicious!
TIPS: Make sure the oil is hot before adding the eggplant and don't overcrowd the pan. You want to cook the eggplant in batches so that the pan stays hot and each piece crisps up nicely. Also, make sure the pan is not too hot otherwise the outside will brown but the eggplant won't be cooked on the inside.
How to Cook Eggplant - Tips
How to Choose Good Eggplant
Good dishes always come from fresh produce. This applies to eggplant too. Luckily, choosing good quality eggplants isn’t hard at all. Look for eggplants with smooth and tight skin, without any blemishes and greyish spots whatsoever. If you’re feeling unsure just by looking, give it a little touch (but don’t squeeze it hard). If the eggplant feels firm with a slight sponginess, it’s perfect If it feels soft, there’s a good chance that the eggplant isn’t in good condition.
Should I Peel Eggplant?
Peel or not to peel? Well, you do you. It really depends on your preference. Some people hate the skin, while others really love it (I personally love it!). Eggplant skin gives an interesting texture and is a nice contrast to the creamy flesh inside. And when the eggplant is roasted or grilled, the skin intensifies the smokiness. Yum!
How to Prevent Eggplant from Turning Brown
Eggplant can easily darken in color. But don’t worry, it’s just some normal oxidation - nothing to worry about. That being said, you can prevent your eggplant from turning brown by soaking the eggplant in lightly salted water after you cut it open or slice it. Or, you can rub your eggplant pieces with salt. Not only will this process prevent your eggplant from darkening but it’ll also draw out the excess moisture.
Why is My Eggplant So Oily?
Eggplant flesh looks, feels, and acts like a sponge, which is nice as it’ll take on whatever flavor you add. However, there’s a major drawback. It absorbs oil like crazy, which can result in soggy and greasy eggplant. Prevent your eggplant from absorbing too much oil by rubbing just enough oil onto your eggplant just before cooking. That way, each side should have just enough oil so as to not become greasy and unhealthy.
How to Store Eggplant
Place unwashed and uncut eggplant in the crisper section of the refrigerator. But if it doesn’t fit, don’t squeeze it. Simply store them on the shelf and they'll be okay. Stored this way, eggplant will easily last for at least a week.
Can You Freeze Eggplant?
Yes, actually you can freeze eggplant. Frozen eggplant will last for up to a couple of months. But keep in mind that frozen eggplant will be somewhat mushy when cooked, which is not a problem if you’re going to make a dip or use it in a pasta sauce. However, if you’re going to make roasted eggplant or any eggplant dish that requires the eggplant to still hold its shape, fresh eggplant is what you need to use.
Here’s how to freeze eggplant: It's important to blanch eggplant pieces before freezing so they keep their shape when defrosted and added to your next recipe.
- Bring a pot of water and lemon juice to a boil. Use the juice of ¼ lemon to every 4 cups of water.
- Wash and cut the eggplants into 1-inch pieces or slices.
- Blanch the eggplant pieces in the boiling water by cooking for 4 minutes while maintaining a steady boil.
- Drain, then shock them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and stop the pieces from getting too mushy.
- Pat them dry with paper towel.
- Place them in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag, store in the freezer.
- To use - lay them straight onto a baking tray and into the oven. No need to thaw them.
- Flat baking tray
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- Remove the stem from the eggplant, then slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1-inch thick "steaks."
- Lay the eggplant pieces on a wire rack. Sprinkle each side of the eggplant with the salt and let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, line a tray with parchment paper. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F | 200°C.
- Rinse the eggplant under cool water and then pat dry thoroughly with paper towel.
- Transfer the eggplant to the baking tray and spread out in a single layer.
- Combine the oil, soy sauce,and paprika (optional) in a small bowl, then brush onto both sides and edges of each piece.
- Place tray in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Flip and roast for another 10 to 20 minutes or until golden-brown and tender. Serve immediately.
How to Cook Eggplant - In Conclusion
Once you know how to cook eggplant, you'll be adding them to everything! Yes, eggplant is delicious! Now, off you go… Buy some fresh eggplants, and make yourself a wonderful meal, snack or side dish out of them.