First of all, can I just say? Your comments on my last post were awesome. I am so on board for knife-sharpening, pie crust, roast chicken, and everything in between. I simply can’t wait to get started with our kitchen resolutions. Huzzah!
This past Sunday, bubbling with excitement about your responses, I went to the farmers’ market, drumming up some crazy ideas for things to make. Sometimes, when I’m at the farmers’ market, I try to channel Alice Waters. I think about what her trips to the market must be like — lifting fruit close to her face, sniffing for freshness, really getting her nose in there to find that peach that’s just bursting with sweetness, and deciding after her trip what’s on the menu for that night, for the rest of the week. My trips aren’t always as whimsical. Yes, I pick what’s freshest and plan a meal around my purchases — but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t made the same pearl couscous-mushroom-zucchini-goat cheese dish three weeks in a row. Once I hit a routine that works, I tend to stick with it for a while.
But then it became September. (Um, when? What? I’m getting married in under three weeks. Whoa.) Newly freed from the shackles of nights and weekends at the office, I suddenly realized that tomatoes! and peaches! and corn! are just shy of done for the year. Eek! Better get cookin’.
It’s not all about peaches and tomatoes. There are other, less-used fruits and vegetables that I haven’t eaten enough this summer. Faced with an imminent season change, I set out to the market last week determined to snag some more exotic summer produce. Among the haul: some beautiful baby eggplants.
I love cooking with eggplants. I’ll broil them down to a pulp, scrape out the smoky, softened flesh, mix it with tahini or yogurt and some lemon, and serve with toasted pita. The whole mess is even better drizzled with a bit of pomegranate syrup. But when I get my hands on the baby eggplants — the ones with the funky colors and the beautifully taut skins — I prefer to keep them intact, the more to showcase their shape when serving.
On a whim, I pulled out the nearly-depleted tub of butter, some soy sauce, and — heck, why not? — some honey. I cut an “x” in each of the eggplants, dotted the slit with plenty of butter, and painted on a soy-honey glaze. Then I broiled them for 15 or 20 minutes — just long enough that their skins had charred and their flesh had really softened. Depending on the size of your baby eggplant, they’ll soften in anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The result is soft, smoky, and sweet eggplant with no bitterness. You’ll want to snatch them up by the stem and pop ’em in your mouth just like that.
And when, after making 20 of these eggplants, you end up with a measly 5 left to serve your guests, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Soy-Glazed Japanese Eggplant
20 Japanese (long skinny) or round baby eggplants
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons soy sauce
8 tablespoons honey
Rinse and dry eggplants. Set on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cut an “x”-shaped slit in each of the eggplants, about 3/4 the length of the eggplant and about half way deep into the eggplant. Dot each of the slits with plenty of butter. Really use your fingers to mash that butter into the slit. When it melts, it’ll make the finished eggplants silky and tender.
Mix honey and soy sauce in small bowl until fully combined. Brush mixture onto eggplants, using all of glaze.
Broil eggplants for anywhere from 10-20 minutes, until skins are charred and flesh is fully soft. Check at 10, 15, and 20 minutes to make sure eggplants are fully cooked but not overly burned.
Serve hot or at room temperature.