Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Grilled aubergines

I have argued that salting aubergines to extract juices before cooking is unnecessary. To summarise: modern strains of aubergine are not bitter; even if they were, salting would disguise rather than remove the bitterness -- adding salt just before the aubergine went into the pan would have the same effect; pre-salting does not influence how aubergines cook if you slice them, brush them with oil, season them, and bake them.

What if you grill aubergines, though? Sometimes, in a salad, a grilled aubergine is just what you want. If you salt the slices so that they go floppy, do they cook more easily?

The first important point about grilling aubergines is that they need a coating of oil. If you grill them dry, with the intention of dressing them later, they never soften. I pour some olive oil into a saucer, slice the aubergines into rounds about 3 mm thick, and brush the oil over both sides of the rounds with the tines of a fork. I put them on to a ridged grill pan, with the heat underneath set on the low side of low to medium. I season them.

They take 10 to 15 minutes to soften. If they brown too quickly, I adjust the heat.

Last night, I set aside half a dozen rounds of aubergine, and salted them. When the rest of the aubergine was cooked, I patted these rounds dry of the moisture they had sweated out, and put them on to the pan. They cooked no faster and no slower than the ones that had not been pre-salted.

I do not yet see a case for retitling my book.

8 comments:

Jessica said...

Love grilled aubergines. Especially wrapped round feta or goat's cheese with a bit of chilli and lemon juice.

adele geras said...

Lovely to read this new blog. Wonderful recipe for aubergine salad: roast, grill, boil or otherwise cook aubergines, say two of them, till soft. Whizz with mayonnaise, garlic, salt, pepper and lots of parsley. Colour should be pale greyish. Serve with M and S pittas. Delicious. Hellman's mayo will do nicely though it might taste better with homemade. Have never tried that! Good luck to this blog.

Tessa said...

Grilled the aubergines and then added a little slice of goats cheese as suggested and it was absolutely delicious! Had to go back and cook the whole thing and ate the lot!!!

Nicholas Clee said...

And, adding to the appeal, it's very simple. Just the thing for a summer lunch.

jackie said...

I wonder is salting still necessary to remove water content prior to baking,eg in aubergine parmigiani? Maybe if they are not salted, too much liquid will leach out into dish...?

Nicholas Clee said...

Most recipes tell you to pre-cook the aubergines for these layered dishes such as moussaka or melanzane parmigiana. So I think, Jackie, that much of the liquid should have evaporated by the time you assemble the ingredients.

Anonymous said...

Jackie is right. Salting the eggplant is to get all the liquid out so your dish is not watery, especially if you're baking an eggplant parmigiana. you shouldn't "pre-cook" the eggplant, in this case, just coat w/ egg and flour, lightly fry, and layer in baking dish.

Nicholas Clee said...

There's nothing wrong with pre-cooking the aubergine - most recipes for this dish, and for moussaka, tell you to do so. And if you do, you'll evaporate the liquid from the aubergines.