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Knife Skills: How to Cut Eggplants

The first step to great food is great knife skills. Check out more Knife Skills this way!

[Video: Robyn Lee]

I hated eggplants up until my early 20s. I think it's because I never had them cooked well. Unless treated right, eggplants are mushy, greasy, and insipid.* But when done right, they're meaty and substantial, with a subtle spicy bitterness and and unparalleled ability to absorb and complement other flavors. They also happen to be dirt cheap.

*My dislike could have also stemmed from the fact that the Eggplant Wizard destroyed me one too many times in Kid Icarus.

The best time of year to get 'em fresh is at the end of the summer (local varieties are still good even now), but unlike, say, inedibly bland winter tomatoes, even winter eggplants are perfectly serviceable. I cook with them pretty much year-round.

Shopping and Storage

Eggplants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Whatever variety you use, look for unblemished, smooth, firm skins, and a hefty weight. As eggplants get too large, they become less dense, less flavorful, and more difficult to cook.

The most common varieties are:

Cooking Tips

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Because of its high air content and sponge-like texture, eggplant can be especially challenging to sear or sautée. Add it to a skillet with oil, and it immediately soaks it up, causing it to stick and burn, and giving the final dish a greasy texture. How do you get around it? Luckily, there are a couple of tricks.

Now if only there were similar tricks to help Kid Icarus get past those invincible eggplant wizards.

More Knife Skills This Way!

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