Ever tasted grilled eggplant? Wasn’t it an excellent grilled treat? Tender flesh with bits of charred eggplant, what could be better.
Grilled eggplant is so versatile; it can stand alone, act as a substitute for grilled BBQ burgers, or be used to make a vegetable platter. Unfortunately, eggplant is considered a hit-or-miss food.
Most of the eggplant you’ve come across was likely undercooked with an unpleasantly spongy texture or overcooked, with a mushy bland flavor.
Luckily, you’re about to learn how to grill eggplant the right way.
How To Choose Eggplant
Like every great brisket, you do not want to pick up the first eggplant you come across.
You must perform a quality inspection. Use these tips to make sure you do not end up with a bad eggplant.
Smooth and shiny skin is a good sign when it comes to eggplants.
Old eggplants usually have dull and wrinkly skin. In addition to this, wrinkly dull skin could mean the eggplant may be bitter, and no one enjoys eating bitter eggplant.
It is a fresh eggplant if the eggplant skin is shiny, tight, and free of any discoloration or bruising.
The eggplant stem should not be as brown as the dirt on the floor. The stem should be green, free of mold, and not shriveled or dried out.
The eggplant’s texture should not be firm as a rock. However, an eggplant should not be as soft as a pillow either. To determine the eggplant texture, press the eggplant with your thumb.
If the eggplant is soft but not mushy, it is perfect, but it is overripe if the eggplant is too soft.
Whether it is a small or large eggplant, it should feel solid or heavy when you hold it. If the eggplant is light as a feather, it is spoiled.
A bigger turkey isn’t necessarily better. The same goes for eggplant. If you want to know how to carve a turkey the easy way, check out our in-depth how-to guide.
Larger eggplants usually have more seeds. More seeds give you a stronger bitter flavor.
For this reason, always purchase small or medium-sized eggplants instead of 1 large eggplant.
Should I Peel Eggplant Before Grilling It?
There’s no need to peel eggplant skin since it is edible. However, the skin of larger eggplant may be tough.
Nevertheless, the skin holds the eggplant flesh together.
If you peel the eggplant, the flesh will fall apart like a freshly smoked pork butt waiting to be made into a pulled pork sandwich.
In addition to this, the peel creates texture as well as serves an aesthetic purpose in the completed dish.
If you want to remove the eggplant skin, you can grill it whole and remove it after cooking.
Is Grilled Eggplant Healthy?
Eggplant is a nutritious vegetable. It is a fiber-rich, low-calorie food that has several health benefits.
Furthermore, a cup of eggplant is about 20 calories and has 2.5 grams of fiber.
Eggplant is a wellspring of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit heart health.
Specifically, eggplant contains lutein and zeaxanthin. These specific antioxidants can play a critical role in maintaining eye health.
Eggplant is also a rich source of polyphenols which may aid in protecting the body against cancer.
With health benefits such as regulating blood sugar and weight management, eggplant can be a tasty, nutritious addition to your diet.
How To Make Grilled Eggplant Less Bitter?
In short, salt makes eggplant less bitter. Adding salt to eggplant activates a process called osmosis, which pulls excess moisture and bitterness out of the eggplant.
If you are worried about the eggplant being too salty, you can remove the excess salt by wrapping the eggplant in a clean kitchen towel and squeezing the eggplant to remove excess water.
Alternatively, you can also rinse the eggplant under cold water to get rid of the excess salt.
Is Eggplant Skin Poisonous?
As previously mentioned, eggplant skin is edible. Even though the skin can be annoyingly chewy and tough, it is safe. However, the same cannot be said for eggplant leaves.
Eggplant leaves are poisonous and should never be consumed.
How Long to Salt Eggplant Before Cooking?
Salted eggplant should sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. However, you can let it sit for an hour and a half.
As the eggplant sits, globules of moisture will begin to form on the surface of the eggplant.
In addition to this, some parts of the eggplant may start to shrivel, but this is nothing to worry about.
How To Cut Eggplant for Grilling
Unlike trimming a brisket, eggplant is extremely easy to cut. Make sure you wash and dry your eggplant before cutting it.
Hold your eggplant with one hand and use a sharp knife to slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
If your eggplants are small, use your blade to cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips to prevent them from falling through the grill’s cooking grates.
How Long to Grill Eggplant?
Unlike 3-2-1 ribs which take hours to cook, eggplant cooks in minutes. Cut in 1/2-inch slices eggplant will take 3-4 minutes per side.
How to Grill Eggplant
To grill eggplant, you will need eggplant, a grill, salt, oil, and pepper.
- 3 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 1/4 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of salt on top of both sides of the eggplant rounds and arrange them in a colander.
- Let the eggplant soak for 1 hour before discarding the excess liquid and rinsing the eggplant under cold water.
- Place the eggplant onto a clean kitchen towel and press the excess moisture out of the eggplant.
- Heat your grill to medium-high heat or set your grill pan over medium-high heat, then brush the eggplant with olive oil and season them with the pepper and garlic powder.
- Grill the eggplant for 3-4 minutes per side until tender, then arrange it onto a serving platter and garnish with the remaining 1/4 tablespoon kosher salt.
When it comes to versatility, eggplant is compatible with many cooking methods especially grilling.
It will literally absorb any seasoning or marinade you add to it and yield a deliciously meaty yet tender vegetable with a slightly earthy flavor.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.