CSA Week Eleven: Japanese Eggplant

ggg ASIAN EGGPLANT:  Eggplant is actually a fruit (it’s part of the same nightshade family that includes the other confusing is-it-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable plant, the tomato). In the U.S., eggplant tends to appear mostly in Italian or Mediterranean dishes, but Southern and Southeast Asian cuisines have long incorporated the fruit as well. Japanese eggplant is noticeably less plump than its more familiar pear-shaped cousin   Japanese eggplant is even more versatile because it has a much thinner skin and is practically seedless. The sponginess of its fleshy inside drinks in seasonings like soy sauce, miso and ginger.  Japanese eggplant is milder and less bitter than other varieties. Since it’s extra spongy, don’t overdo the marinades — a little goes a long way

Eggplant is native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Unlike other members of the Solanaceae family, which are native to the New World, eggplant varieties are native to the Old world.  In Modern Japan, eggplant is the third most important vegetable for culinary use.  In France, eggplants are called  “aubergine”  which you may have used to describe that deep purple color in other areas of life.

Raw eggplant is very low in calories, saturated fat and sodium, with only 20 calories per cup. It’s a high source of dietary fiber and is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, potassium and manganese. By leaving the thin skin on, Japanese eggplant  will add fiber to your diet, causing you to remain full for longer periods of time while regulating your digestive system.  Along with other nightshade plants like bell peppers and potatoes, Japanese eggplants also contain antioxidants like nasunin, which is thought to protect cell membranes in the brain.


PREP TIME:  Eggplant is quite perishable and will not store long. They may be refrigerated for up to seven days; however, it is best to use them as soon as possible.  Handle eggplants gingerly, as they bruise easily. When storing them in the refrigerator, wrap in a paper towel, and place in a perforated plastic bag before storing in the veggie drawer.

If you want to freeze your eggplant for future use :
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large container of ice and water to fit the eggplant ready.
Slice eggplant about 1/3-inch thick. Work quickly or the peeled eggplant will begin to brown. Place slices into boiling water and cover for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the slices to the ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, thoroughly drain slices and pat dry. Separate slices with plastic wrap, place into freezer bags, squeeze out all the air, and seal tightly.


ASIAN EGGPLANT

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems trimmed
5 tablespoons canned low-salt chicken broth
2 green onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves
1 small jalapeño chili, chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1 1/4-pound eggplant, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide slices and slices cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide-strips
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Combine cilantro, 1 tablespoon broth, green onions, garlic, chili and ginger in processor and puree until paste forms.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot. Add half of eggplant. Cover skillet and cook until eggplant is tender and beginning to brown, turning once, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining eggplant.

Add cilantro paste and soy sauce to skillet and stir over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Return eggplant to skillet and add remaining 4 tablespoons broth. Stir until sauce thickens and boils and eggplant is heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


EGGPLANT IN GARLIC SAUCE

2 asian eggplants
1 tbsp soy sauce
cooking oil
1/2 tbsp of minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped

Cut eggplants into chunks and soak them in saltwater.  Let soak  about 15 minutes.
Mince garlic and ginger and chop scallion.

Heat a skillet up with hot water.  Add a bit of oil and salt to the hot water.  When it starts boiling, throw the eggplants in the hot water for just a minute or until you see the purple skin start turning slightly brown.  This step will prevent your eggplants from absorbing too much oil and getting all greasy.

In another pan, add cooking oil and set at high heat.  Add your minced ginger and garlic.

Add the eggplants and soy sauce, (and optional: sprinkle some sugar) and stir about 5 minutes or until eggplants are cooked thoroughly.  At the very end, add the chopped scallions, stir and turn off the heat.


MORE ASIAN EGGPLANT RECIPES: Stuffed Miso Eggplant, Eggplant Chips with Cilantro DressingEggplant and Tofu Curry, Ratatouille Spirals, Spicy Eggplant Stir Fry, Spicy Eggplant with Pork,  Japanese Eggplant Salad, Roasted Eggplant with Artichoke Hearts and Salsa Verde

 

 

 

 

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