Why It Works
- Steaming eggplants keeps their flesh especially moist and tender, resulting in a different texture from when they are roasted.
- With minimal cooking, the dish is refreshing and light, fitting for days when you don't want to turn on the oven.
Have you ever tried steaming eggplant? Eggplant lovers may cry foul at the thought of not roasting them, or not making them almost caramelized on the surface, and it's true, you will not get that result by steaming an eggplant. But what you do get is juicy and tender eggplant flesh, so sweet and naturally good, this may become your new favorite eggplant preparation.
Similar to the Chinese cold dish of eggplant dressed in sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic, it's in this same vein of minimalist preparation. The idea is to scoop out the flesh after steaming, toss it in oil, vinegar, and whatever other seasonings you have on hand. I've eaten the dish in Chinese homes and restaurants in a number of ways: topped with pickled chiles and cilantro, dressed with tahini, dressed with various types of vinegar.
Regardless of the garnishes, the dish is always cold and sweet, refreshing and light. It's a nice dish to have on hand for those days when you do not want to turn your kitchen into a sauna by way of the oven.
And once made, it can be kept in the fridge until such time that you are ready for eggplant-y refreshments.
The last time I made this dish, there were construction guys outside my window in East Harlem. One of the guys looked into my window and yelled "nice eggplants!" and the ensuing hooting and laughing at my produce was so riotous that I just had to give in, and hold up my eggplants for closer inspection. They were, after all, really nice eggplants.
1 large globe eggplant, or 2 long Chinese or Japanese eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons Chinkiang rice vinegar, or any other rice vinegar
1 medium clove garlic, minced or grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon tahini (optional)
2 to 3 teaspoons chili oil (optional)
Finely chopped scallions or cilantro
Toasted sesame seeds
Halve eggplants and place in a steamer. Steam until flesh feels soft and saturated with moisture, about 20 minutes. Remove from steamer and let cool. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh in long segments, leaving out as best you can the pockets of seeds in the eggplant.
Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, tahini, and chili oil (if using). Toss the eggplant in the dressing, then taste add more salt, sugar, or vinegar as desired. Garnish with scallions, cilantro, and/or toasted sesame seeds.
Steamer or steaming insert
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||7%|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||29%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 5mg||25%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|