I know every person and their pharmacist’s goldfish has written about cooking eggplant (a.k.a. aubergine). If we have to eat eggplant, it helps to make it as palatable as possible.
As any chef knows, fragrance, appearance and presentation all contribute to an appetising plate. Unfortunately, preparing eggplant doesn’t really help with sensory input. The traditional Romanian way of preparing an eggplant is to roast it over an open fire. This gives a smoky flavour that isn’t unpleasant but baking cooks it more evenly, gives it a milder flavour, a bronze hue to the skin, and makes it easer to remove the skin. Our oven doesn’t have temperatures listed – just numbers 1 to 5 – but we cook smaller eggplants for about 75 minutes hour, and larger ones for about 90 minutes on temperature level 4.
A cooked eggplant fresh out of the over should have a skin brittle and easily pierced with a sharp knife. Leave it a little while until they cool down a little. Using a sharp knife, slice the eggplant open lengthwise. Slice again along the line of the green it at the top. Open out the skin, until the innards are neatly displayed. You should see something that looks like cooked chicken – the white meat, none of the skin – with a few squid tentacles added. Use a spoon to scrape the meat away from the skin, top to base. Try to also get the brown inner peel as well. The meat should be soft and come away easily. Unless you can remove large sections of the meat in one scoop, you can’t avoid the idea you are dealing with pulped, slightly oxidised squid.
At this point, throw the skin away, and try to find a good recipe. Try mixing it with dill, garlic, tomato, a little bit of olive oil and, for want of a better word, enjoy.