Eggplant is a very interesting looking vegetable and has a very unique spongy texture when it is raw. If you eat it raw you will notice that it tastes slightly bitter yet pleasant, and when it is cooked it loses its bitterness and develops a much richer flavor.
Eggplants are very nutrient-dense food which means that they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in only a few amounts of calories. One cup of eggplant can contain 20 calories. Eggplant is also known to reduce the risk of heart disease and is rich in antioxidants.
In this article we will be covering what eggplant tastes like, why is it bitter, how to tell if it is cooked, and how to know if an eggplant is ripe.
We will also be telling you how to cook it and how to prepare it by using different methods such as frying, grilling, and various other ways.
What does eggplant taste like?
The taste of eggplant can closely be compared to raw zucchini; it will have a somewhat bland bitter taste. The blandness makes it perfect for pairing with other flavorful ingredients that can help enhance its flavor. When it is cooked the bitterness will tone down, and it will have a pleasant, rich flavor.
Unlike zucchini, the texture of raw eggplant will have a slightly spongy to the touch. When it is cooked it takes on a soft creamy like texture.
There once was a time when it was believed that raw eggplant was poisonous due to the bitter taste, however, that is not true and people can enjoy raw eggplant, however, the flavors are muuuuch nicer once it is cooked.
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Why does eggplant taste bitter?
Why is eggplant bitter? It has always been like that, however, throughout the year’s eggplants have been bred to be way less bitter compared to their ancestors.
Another common reason for bitter eggplant their age. Older eggplants tend to be more bitter as compared to eggplants that you buy fresh from the farmers market. Make sure the eggplant firm and shiny. This means the eggplant still has small seeds and is not overripe.
How to know if eggplant is ripe?
One key feature to a nice ripe eggplant is the color of the skin; if it is vibrant and shiny then it is probably ripe. Beyond the look, you can tell if it is ripe simply just by touching it. If the eggplant is hard and has no give then it is too young, if your finger leaves an impression that quickly goes away then you have a perfectly ripe eggplant.
How to know if eggplant is off?
There are a few indicators that will warn you when the eggplant is bad, or about to go bad. First off is the skin, if it is losing its color and shininess and looks more wrinkly, then it is starting to go bad. The stem will start to grow mold, and the texture is squishy and your fingers can easily penetrate the skin, this is a sign that it has gone bad.
How to cook eggplant?
Eggplant is a very versatile vegetable, and it can be cooked using a variety of different cooking methods. Here are a few of the more common cooking ways that go well with preparing eggplant. One method that I would not recommend however would be boiling, as that method is most common when it comes to making eggplant pure.
In order to fry eggplant without it getting soggy, you must first sweat it. To sweat the eggplant you must cut it, sprinkle with salt then let it sweat for 30 to 60 min. Once the time is up rinse them off, pat dry and then you can begin cooking. Sweating them allows for the air pockets to fill with moisture so that way the oil won’t soak in, which will prevent them from getting soggy.
When it comes to sautéing eggplant you don’t need to sweat it like you would when you are frying it, all you would do is cut it and throw it into the pan with any other seasonings or vegetables and then start sautéing. You want to gently toss them in the pan for 10 min, or until golden brown, avoiding overcooking them. This method is perfect if you wish to add a variety of other flavors.
Roasting your eggplant can give you that nice golden brown and crunchy outside but a soft inside texture that many people like. All you would need to do is preheat your oven to 425 degrees, cut the eggplant to your desired thickness and toss in your desired seasoning (note the thicker they are the longer you may have to cook). Roast them for about 30- 35 minutes or until golden brown, but be sure to flip them at the 25 min mark.
Grilling can truly enhance the flavor of the eggplant and will add a nice grill mark if you are going for an elegant presentation.
First, you will want to preheat the grill, then start by cutting the eggplant, try to not go any smaller than ¼ inch, or else they might overcook really quick. Then start coating it in salt and oil then whatever seasoning that you would like. When the grill is ready throw them on and cook for about 6 minutes on each side or until it is golden brown.
How to know if eggplant is cooked?
They say that perfectly cooked eggplant will resemble that of a plush pillow and as soft as custard. It is one of the few vegetables that once it is overcooked it is completely ruined, so knowing when it is cooked will save you from having to cook fresh eggplant over again if you mess up.
The end result should be melting soft, smooth and creamy, that’s when you know that it is cooked properly.