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I love cooking with eggplant (or aubergine/brinjal in your specific English flavor).

However to get rid of the bitter taste and slightly spongy texture, I end up using huge amounts of olive oil, which tends to make the dish heavy overall. I've had some success with grilling the eggplant, but for sauté or oven baking I always grab my oil and apply liberally.

Are there any tips/preparations I can use to reduce the bitterness and sponginess of eggplant using less oil?

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I had this problem for the longest time. What type of oil are you using? Switching to grapeseed oil, and getting is very hot helped me. –  devnull Mar 24 '11 at 23:22
    
I agree with @jmoeller. Since you have tried that, do you like steaming? If you do, I will provide you a different method. –  Foodrules Mar 31 '11 at 12:40
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6 Answers

Put salt on the eggplant and let it sit for an hour to drain out the bitter fluids. Rinse with water afterwards to remove the salt.

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I regularly already do this. However I find it only reduces the bitterness, but doesn't remove it. It also doesn't help much with the sponginess. Is there a more of a technique to this, or can this method only get me so far? –  fencliff Jul 11 '10 at 21:57
    
Yeah... this does not actually help reduce the amount of oil. –  devnull Mar 24 '11 at 23:19
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As @jmoeller says, slice and salt the eggplant. Preferably wait for an hour, but even 15 minutes takes out some. I usually just use a papertowel to remove bitter fluids and most of the water.

If you then desire them fried, but not too much oil. Frying in the oven requires much less oil.

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+1 for frying in the oven. –  Recep Jul 13 '10 at 10:08
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You're half right, after slicing (I do 1 to 2 cm slices; 1/2 to 3/4 inch) and salting, stack the slices and put a towel or plate at the bottom of your stack(s) of slices and a weight at the top. Have come up with some interesting weights, rocks from the stream, large cans of vegies, gallon jug full of water, etc. After the stack has shrunk by half, remove the eggplant and rinse and dry it; the texture will be more like a very tender meat slice than the mushyness you are talking about.

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Oh yeah, the condensed eggplant will require less oil too. –  Frankie Jul 20 '10 at 17:40
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If you want to make eggplant Parmesan without frying the eggplant at all, you can slice, dip in egg and breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet in the oven at 350F for 5-7 minutes on each side. Then use to prepare Parmesan as usual.

In this dish, it never tastes bitter to me.

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One old trick is to cook the aubergine in a pan without adding any fat or water. Just put them in a covered pan on moderate heat. After a while the aubergines will start "sweating". Uncover and continue cooking and stirring until they have lost about half of their volume. Then add oil and proceed as directed by your recipe. You will notice that, since the spongy structure of the aubergine has collapsed, they will absorb much less oil.

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Very interesting. –  devnull Mar 24 '11 at 23:20
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Grill them. Slice, salt, wait, rinse as per previous answers. Lightly brush them with oil, garlic, and herbs provencal. Put on a grill until you get zebra stripes on both sides. Move to top rack, and let them bake while you do your steaks.

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