The Quick Guide to Eggplant Roasting

Baba Ganouj is only one of several amazingly good dishes you could make out of a freshly roasted eggplant. Most of which go wonderfully with hummus and tahini, naturally. The traditional open fire could easily be replaced with a simple kitchen stove.

In order to make delicacies like Baba Ganouj (and other super-tasty eggplant dishes), you should first have your eggplants roasted and peeled. This should not be too much of a hassle if you know what you’re doing, but most people don’t. So, here’s a quick list of crucial tips.

חציל על האש

Choose your eggplants wisely. Most people have a hard time choosing the right eggplants, which may sound trivial but isn’t. As a rule of thumb, a good eggplant is one with little or no kernels. Eggplants with too many kernels are often too bitter and watery, and will make a lousy Baba Ganouj.

Look for light, airy, torpedo shaped eggplants, with slick skin, homogenous in color. If it’s light as a feather, medium sized and long, than there’s a good chance it’s good.

Put it on fire. Wash and wipe dry the eggplant, then put it on a stove (or any other source of open fire). Do NOT cut or pierce the skin – leave it perfectly unharmed. This way, it’ll stay light in color and taste. Also, the whole process will be WAY less messy.

Use tin foil to keep your stove clean: take off the stove-top, cover with a large piece of tin foil, carefully shape a hole for the stove-top and put it back.

Roast completely. It is actually easier to not roast the eggplant for enough time than to over-roast it. Leave it there for at least 10 minutes, and turn it over every couple of minutes. Don’t take it off the stove before the skin looks like a burnt paper. It may drip some fluids during the process, and that’s perfectly OK.

Take it off the fire. When the eggplant is perfectly burnt and very soft, take it off the stove and put it in a large bowl to chill a little. Then cut it in two and put over a strainer and let the rest of the fluids to drain for at list half an hour. If you want your roasted eggplant in one piece, wear rubber gloves and peel it gently over the strainer.

When your eggplant is roasted, chilled and drained, you can empty it’s content with a spoon (if you didn’t peel it).

You don’t even have to make Baba Ganouj out of it – sprinkle some salt and pepper, squeeze a lemon, crush some garlic and pour a little olive oil over it, and serve it with good bread. Everyone who’d eat this will worship you.

Comments

20 Responses to “The Quick Guide to Eggplant Roasting”

  1. chiffOnade on December 29th, 2007 8:33 pm

    I live in a trailer house with some cats and my girlfriend. But sometimes, my “boyfriend” the 400-pound MANAGER comes over to visit us.

    The day after Christmas i wanted to make Baba Ganouj but my stove in the florida trailer house is one of those kinds with electric coil thingies.

    So my boyfriend got a torch of some kind (i think he said it was propain) out of his pick up truck and roasted the eggplant. Unfortunately, he really put a bad burn on the formica counter and i’m afraid the landlord may be really upset when she sees it.

    But the baba ganouj turned out really great. i served it with some of that fake crab meat (you know, spelled with a “K”) to all of the MANAGER’s (thats what my boyfriend is called, because he manages some girl “singers” i think he said).

    Fake crab from walmart is kind of a tradition with my family, and the meal was really super. the Krab went really good with the roasted eggplant.

  2. PHYLLIS FORD on December 29th, 2007 9:32 pm

    I LOVE THE WAY THIS RECIPE SOUNDS. I WILL MAKE THIS FOR MY 11YR OLD SON, HE LOVES EGGPLANT AND I USUALLY CANNOT FIND A RECIPE THAT SOUND GOOD, BUT THIS DOES THANKS

  3. JJ Loch on December 31st, 2007 5:01 pm

    Thanks for the eggplant cooking tips. I have never cooked one.

    Happy New Year!

    JJ :D

  4. carrie on January 4th, 2008 5:59 am

    Yay! I love eggplant but have never figured them out in the kitchen. One question though – what do you mean by “pick one with little or no kernels”? What are kernels?

    -c

  5. RennyBA on January 5th, 2008 1:54 pm

    Here from BC – thanks for the add and revenue!

    This eggplant looks great and your blog is wonderful. I love food and coming from Norway, my fav is sea food.

    Wishing you A Happy New Year!

  6. Shady Guy on January 8th, 2008 11:57 pm

    Carrie – Kernels are seeds. The more there are, the older and more bitter the eggplant.

  7. victoria on January 20th, 2008 4:17 pm

    just discovered your website.. really helpful. was just wondering if its essential to peel the egg plant ansd is it possible to just roast the entire thing in a hot oven? thanks

  8. shooky on January 21st, 2008 12:07 pm

    Hi Voctoria,
    Yes, it is essential to peel the eggplant, in order to get the flavor and texture you want. And yes, it’s possible to use a hot oven – but it needs to be EXTRA hot so that the eggplant will be fully roasted and not just baked. Open fire is always best and the cooker flame is second best.

  9. JSinger on January 22nd, 2008 12:37 am

    I’ve never been able to make especially good hummus, but baba ganouj came out terrific the first time. It’s definitely a more forgiving way to start, especially since, as you say, it’s very difficult to overcook.

  10. shooky on January 24th, 2008 10:14 am

    JSinger – right. But I think you should still try to also make hummus.

  11. sawa on February 7th, 2008 2:12 pm

    This is a great little trick for all who have a gas stove. (My boyfriend also grills shish kebab or chicken kebab this way.)

    An alternate method I have used before I had a gas stove was putting a cast iron pan on the burner, letting it get really smoking hot, then roasting the eggplant in the pan. A drop of oil, and not more, helps keep the skin from sticking too badly. I find that using a cast iron pan adds a little of the fire-roasted flavor that is difficult to imitate with a normal oven.

  12. Iris on February 22nd, 2008 9:27 pm

    Hi, I hope you get this (I’m a little behind the thread!). I roasted an eggplant on my stove top today and it went quite well. It was a nice light eggplant. I roasted it until the whole thing was soft–my baba is creamy, definitely, but it tastes burnt! I thought I got all of the skin off except for a fleck here and there. It’s bitter! Did I over roast? It didn’t look ashy…help!

  13. shooky on March 1st, 2008 2:06 pm

    Hi IRIS,
    There are two parts for the answer:
    a. The eggplant is supposed to have a burnt taste, but it’ll be more subtle if you keep an eye on it while roasting and see that skin stays in one peace.
    b. It shouldn’t be bitter, though, and it’s probably not because you over-roasted but because the eggplant you used was bitter OR the tahini you used was too bitter OR you used the wrong kind of lemon.

    Usually, light eggplants have less seeds and are not bitter, but there’s no 100%. If you open the eggplant and see it does have a lot of seeds, try using only the thin part which should have less seeds in it.

    The tahini should be the BEST you can find (in our Amazon affiliate shop you can find Al-Wadi which is quite decent). Always check the raw tahini before using it – it should have a light and pure texture, and taste almost sweet. If it’s bitter to start with, it might become more bitter if you use the wrong lemon.

    The lemon should have no bitterness and must be fresh and firm. And after you cut it open, you can’t use it again with tahini.

  14. Eggplant salad « Eatincalgary’s Blog on November 17th, 2008 8:37 pm

    [...] This eggplant salad might seem a bit hard to make at first, because you’ll need to roast the eggplants. Roasting them can be messy, as a friend remarked recently: eggplants may burst in your oven or on the BBQ. To avoid that, you can either cut them in 2 and bake them in the oven – or you can pierce them with a fork. You can roast in the oven, at 350 – 400F. I prefer to roast them in a pan (no water, no oil, just put them in a pan), on the stove – you’ll need to flip them regularly. Oh, and do make sure you watch the fire alarm, because roasting can sometimes be a bit smoky. (Here’s another post I found on roasting eggplants) [...]

  15. » Baba ganouj – Don’s version Over The Fence on January 22nd, 2010 10:48 pm

    [...] on a burner and let it char. This also takes about 15 minutes – it needs to get soft inside. Here’s a thing from the hummus blog showing [...]

  16. Andrew Cox on March 21st, 2010 10:31 am

    Just tried your baba ganouj recipe using home grown eggplant, parsley and lime. Amazing how the flavour changes as it cools. My wife and I ate the whole batch (2 eggplants) and my daughter was disgusted to hear she has missed out. Oh well next weekend

  17. Matts on July 8th, 2010 4:30 pm

    “Do NOT cut or pierce the skin – leave it perfectly unharmed.”

    Any other recipes I have read always say to pierce the skin in order to avoid an exploding eggplant. I have always followed this advice, but I do end up with very dark insides. So is there no chance of the eggplant exploding when roasting it on a burner?

  18. shooky on August 21st, 2010 1:53 pm

    Matts – sure you’re not mixing eggplants with grenades? No, eggplants do not explode.

  19. sulmer on September 3rd, 2010 5:15 pm

    I’ve had eggplants explode. It was cool, my oven looked like a sci fi special effects lab… and the eggplant I retrieved from the walls of the oven had peeled itself. But this was cooking eggplants in the oven, not over a flame. Which (heresy!) I prefer because I think the smoky flavour is disgusting.

  20. Mijail on October 27th, 2011 11:08 am

    Maybe the “oven” in the exploding eggplant episodes was in fact a microwave oven? Things tend to explode there.

    (A microwave oven recipe for eggplants I knew is: puncture a bit the clean eggplant, microwave for like 8 minutes, cut in half, sprinkle with oil/salt, add cheese, microwave 2 minutes more, done. No burnt taste at all, of course)

    I am amazed by the 10 minutes directly over a burner. I would have never thought of doing something like that, will have to try!

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