Eggplant…Nice or Nefarious

Eggplant…Nice or Nefarious

Nefarious. Nefarious? I know I have heard that word before but I wasn’t positive of the meaning. There is a commercial on television that uses that word.

Kudos to an advertising group that uses words with more than three syllables! It was kind of refreshing for me to hear a word and have to look it up.   (I should edit that to a word I need to look up that isn’t slang!)

I recorded the commercial and couldn’t tell what the word meant. Why I thought this was an easier method than looking it up is beyond me. I watched the commercial about 2 15 times and gave up. (Tenacity is another great word!)

It is an adjective that means being infamous for being wicked. Hmmmm, who would I describe as a nefarious person? My brain is coming up with people that are so unrelated. Well kind of related. It is killing me to not insert a mother in law joke here. Does that make ME the nefarious one?

Can you describe a food as nefarious? I think food can be nefarious but I think there would be some discussion on what should be on the list. I’ve heard of everything from grape gum to eggplants being nefarious.

I understand the grape gum. My mom couldn’t stand the smell so if we ever did get our hands on it, she would wince. I think it conditioned me to think grape gum causes Mom pain. Don’t chew nefarious grape gum. (This is the point where I typed nefarious enough times that it is in my vocabulary.)

But eggplant??? I don’t think it is nefarious!!! That is crazy!! (Crazy like my train of thought today!) I think the reason it sometimes gets a bad rap is because of the bitterness if not prepared correctly.

So here are a few hints (and an awesome recipe) that will take your eggplant from nefarious to nummy (Did I just type nummy?)

  1. To peel or not to peel? It depends on your eggplant and cooking method. If you are grilling it….leave the skin on. Eggplant gets silky when cooked and the skin will help keep it all together. Certain varieties (like Japanese or Chinese) have very thin skins and taste pretty good. When in doubt, peel off alternating strips.
  2. Salt, friend or foe? FRIEND!!! After you cut your eggplant, salt it generously and let it sit for an hour. The salt helps pull out some of the liquid that makes eggplant bitter. In addition, the salt sort of collapses the flesh so it won’t absorb all of your oil in one swoop.
  3. Speaking of absorption…..when stir-frying or frying…..make sure you oil is hot and that you don’t over crowd your pan. You want the eggplant to get some rich brown colors on it so you may want to do it in batches. If you cook it all at once, odds are it will steam and not caramelize.
  4. Go all the way! Make sure you cook it until it is done. It should be soft and smooth. Ovens, grills and stoves all vary so follow your recipe but use your best judgment on finish times. (And for goodness sakes, taste it!)

I learned to love eggplant the way most people do….eggplant Parmesan. (Have I blogged on that?)  But my new favorite is as simple as roasting it with a little miso glaze. It gets nice and creamy but still has a little roasty hint to it. The miso adds that extra oomph or umami that makes my mouth water.

Miso Glazed Eggplant

Ingredients

5 Japanese eggplants (long-thin-purple)

¼ cup yellow miso paste (look in your International aisles or near the tofu)

¼ cup of mirin (sweet cooking white wine)

2 Tbsp white sugar

Salt

Green onion

Directions

Oven 375. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment.

Cut the eggplants lengthwise. I salted it lightly and let them sit for a minute.

Lay them on the baking sheet cut side down and roast about 20 minutes. It should be fork tender and a nice light brown.

While the eggplants are cooking, mix miso paste, mirin and sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Nuke it for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until sugar is dissolved. It will be kind of thick, like a good barbeque sauce.

Ding. Eggplants are almost done so pull them out of the oven. Flip them over on the sheet so the brown, cut side is up..

Using a spoon, drop a dollop of sauce on each piece and spread it with the back of the spoon.

Put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. The miso will be the color of good brown mustard when it is done and the eggplant will be nice and soft.

Sprinkle with green onion and prepare to amaze!

Hopefully after you read this post, you’ll start to stick up for eggplant so it no longer has such a vile reputation. (Or maybe you just learned a new word like I did!)

 

 

 

 

 

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