Why do recipes generally say slice eggplant, sprinkle
with salt and set aside? Is it necessary to salt eggplant and set aside?
Can eggplant be eaten raw?
What can be done to keep eggplant from acting as a
sponge when cooking in oil?
Read on for answers.
Eggplant is a relative newcomer to American tables. But
in the Middle East, China and India, eggplant is an ancient and constant
Consequently, for some of us (older folks) who may not
have grown up with frequent eggplant, when the recipe says “sprinkle with
salt and drain for 30 minutes,” we dutifully do just that. However, in my
usual rush, I considered that eggplant step a pain.
Hooray! A little research into eggplant reveals salting
isn’t required!! Why? Because once upon a time, eggplant were bitter or
considered bitter. The salting was to take out the bitterness. Now, frankly,
I’ve never tasted a bitter eggplant. So maybe all those years of salting
were a total waste. New varieties of eggplant are, so experts say, not
bitter. Besides, most of us are trying to avoid quantities of salt. If,
however, you like to salt eggplant and think it tastes better salted, by all
There was one other reason for salting eggplant: to
remove water. Eggplant is 92 percent water and not one of the more
nutritious vegetables. Salting does draw out some of the water and keeps
sliced eggplant from being so porous if it will be fried.
As for eating eggplant raw, you just wouldn’t want
to. It doesn’t taste good and the mushy texture is even worse raw.
Besides, uncooked eggplant contains solanine — a toxin that can cause
So, for our last question, what to do to reduce the
sponge qualities of eggplant? Earlier in my cooking days, I fried eggplant
in oil. It just absolutely slurped up the oil. In my more
fat/health-conscious cooking days, I never fry eggplant. I now prepare it
broiled or baked. I still love the Broiled Eggplant recipe with margarine,
but I have used spray. Tastes fine and you feel virtuous with the spray
version. Eggplant Parmigiana is such a cheesy combination, that we served it
for an entrée. Easy, filling and delicious.