Friday, September 5, 2008

Sicilian Eggplants

If you like eggplant and want something other then the typical italian black eggplant commonly found year round you should keep an eye out for sicilian eggplant which usually hits the markets in middle to late august. Its colour is a light purple, similar to japanese eggplant but big and round like a melon. Its interior is a beautiful white with minimal seeds. Since it doesn't have much seeds it tends to be sweeter rather then bitter (its the seeds that make eggplant bitter). I came across a bunch of these at a local farmers market one sunday and i bought the whole bushel. I knew exactly what i was going to do with them when i got home. I made a great pickled eggplant last year that everyone that tasted it loved it so i decided to try it with this sicilian type. The recipe is dead simple and is great on its own with bread. First, you want to julienne the eggplant. I use a mandolin when i do mine so i get nice even strips of eggplant and then i julienne them by hand. Take kosher salt and salt them liberally. Put then in a colander (in th
is case my sink) and weight them down for an hour. The salt will help extract any bitterness and wilt the eggplant. After the hours up, give the eggplant a good squeeze. You may think the eggplant will turn to mush, but it really stands up to a lot of abuse. Then give your eggplant a good rinse in cold water and squeeze again. Blanch the eggplant in salted water and for every liter of water add 100 ml of red wine vinegar. Depending on how thin your eggplant is, it should blanch for a good 3 minutes but still keep a bit of its crunch. Strain it, and lay on clean clothes to cool. Bottle it and cover it with chilies and good olive oil. If covered, you can keep it at room temp for a month or so and is best served at room temp.

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