An Eggplant and Salty Lessons
Diving deeper into cooking yesterday, I thought I would expand my culinary skills a bit with the intimidating eggplant. I’ve had mixed feelings about eggplant; if done right, it can be perfectly delicious. If done wrong (and there are many ways to do it wrong), it transforms into a slimy and bland meal-destroyer. Thus, I purchased my first eggplant with the determination to make it work.
I researched a bit online for the proper way to prepare it, as I hadn’t a clue how to even cut it, nor did I know what awaited me once I did. I discovered a Good Housekeeping article that mentioned how raw eggplant leaves a bad aftertaste, and that the best way to remedy this is by “deactivating” the bad-aftertaste enzyme with a bit of salt. With this morsel of information, I began cutting my eggplant into slices.
Surprisingly, it looked “normal,” and wasn’t scary at all. It’s kind of like a soft potato with seeds in the middle. Confidently, after cutting up all the eggplant and removing the skin (which took quite a long time), I proceeded with the deactivating process, which leads to a very important lesson:
Read instructions carefully.
The article says to “generously sprinkle each slice of eggplant with kosher salt.” For some strange reason still unknown to me, I replaced the word “sprinkle” with “dip” in my head, completely covering each side with non-kosher salt.
Then, following the instructions, I placed the eggplant slices on a paper towel and, in my case, a plate. I think all the salt I put on it caused the eggplant slices to lose its water, as I was soon left with a dark puddle of eggplant juice on my kitchen counter. Thinking this was part of the process, I moved on.
With my eggplant dish I made fried tofu, which was really delicious. I purchased extra firm tofu and prepared a flour mixture with curry powder, parsley flakes, season salt and pepper. I then fried it in olive oil. It turned out fantastic!
I then stir fried snap peas, a few mushrooms and, of course, the eggplant. Humming as I stirred, I was excited to try my new dish, confident that I had prepared meal Julia Child would be proud of.
In a sudden spurt of culinary “genius,” I poured soy sauce atop the already salty eggplant, which leads to my second lesson:
Watch your salt.
Yes, salt makes things taste good, but it can also ruin a dish if too much is added, not too mention give you some serious high blood pressure. If preparing a dish with a lot of flavors, taste your dish once it is cooked before adding salt.
So, the stir fry is cooked, the rice is cooked, and the tofu is fried and smelling great. Everything looked so good!
I hungrily poured everything into a bowl, grabbed a fork and sat down, only to taste what felt like an entire tablespoon of salt! I felt tears forming.
It did not take me too long to convict the eggplant as the salty culprit, and I quickly picked it all out in the hopes of salvaging the rest of this hour-in-the-making dish.
Fortunately, it worked! While it is still a little bit salty, it is edible and, best of all, important culinary lessons were learned.