Published July 1, 1993.
To get the best results with eggplant, there is no substitute for salting and pressing to remove excess liquid before cooking.
Many people complain that their eggplant dishes are either tough, pithy, and astringently bitter, or oil-soaked, slimy, and tasteless. While it might seem that eggplant is inherently bitter, the real problem is that eggplant is packed with water. Also, it is extremely porous, and thus drinks up oil like a sponge.
Eggplant can (and should) be firm and meaty, with a rich, sweet, nut-like flavor.
We found the remedy for this problematic vegetable is salting. Salt draws water out of cells by creating such a high concentration of dissolved ions outside the cell walls that water inside is drawn out. For the salt to do its job, eggplant must macerate for at least one and one-half hours, preferably for two to three. It will not be harmed by macerating for as long as 24 hours. Salting alone, however, is not sufficient. The flesh of the eggplant must also be firmly pressed between sheets of paper towels; pressing extrudes the juice and compacts the flesh. Before pressing, conscientious rinsing is important. It not only floods away excess salt but also softens the eggplant, facilitating pressing. Finally, no matter what the cooking method, we found eggplant always comes out firmer, browner, and sweeter when cooked slowly rather than quickly.list of recipes