I almost didn’t post this recipe because the photos are so informal, snapped in a few seconds while the eggplants were on the grill. They’re definitely not my usual carefully planned, arranged with props, and waited until the light hit the food at exactly the right moment kind of thing.
But then the caramelized skins looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist. The colors here are so lovely and unusual that I’m planning to pin these photos to a Pinterest board I use for color inspiration for both food props and textile design. There are a lot of sad, grey photos of eggplant out there and the world needs to know how beautiful it can be, even after it’s fully cooked.
Besides, grilled eggplant can be a revelation – low calorie and unexpectedly delicious. Japanese eggplant is perfect for grilling because of it’s long flat shape and because its thin skins don’t need to peeled before eating. It’s also almost seedless and has a milder, less bitter taste than the standard variety. Japanese eggplant is extra spongy, so a little marinade – brushed on rather than poured on – provides plenty of flavor without adding extra calories. Sprinkling salt on the eggplant an hour before cooking it encourages the eggplant to release any moisture, leaving the finished dish firm instead of mushy.
A few tips for grilling Japanese eggplant:
- Cook it within a couple of days after purchasing it. The shelf life is shorter than the shelf life for standard eggplant.
- This marinade includes fresh oregano, but thyme, sage or parsley would also work nicely.
- After the grill is heated, wipe the grates down with an oiled cloth held with a spatula to prevent the eggplant from sticking.
- Place the eggplant on the hottest part of the grill. You want a good sear and a short cook time – 90 second each side.
- Be vigilant – overcooked eggplant is just terrible. Use a timer!
- 4 Japanese eggplant, halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Place eggplant on a large baking sheet, cut side up.
- In a small bowl, combine the sherry, olive oil, garlic and oregano. Brush the mixture onto the cut side of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper.
- Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat grill to medium high.
- Grill the eggplant on each side for 90 seconds, basting with the remaining marinade once on each side.