This is the most exquisite salad that’s part of Romanian cuisine. Any self-respecting Romanian cherishes this dish so it seems only fair to dedicate post #1 to the queen of our Romanian hearts (or stomachs), the eggplant/aubergine salad!
Step 1: cooking the aubergines
You can cook (or better yet fry) the aubergines in many ways. You can
use a pan and the grill-mode of an oven, you can use any kind of grate
placed on the stove, or you can even use an outside grill. You just need to place
the aubergines on the heated surface and wait until they become moist and wrinkled on the side which is in direct contact to the heat. Turn the aubergines on each side until they have the same texture on all sides.
What happens is that due to the hard peel of the eggplant, the inside warms up and gets cooked under pressure. At some point small cracks may appear and water is sure to drip from inside.
Not to worry. Just continue cooking them until they’re all moist and soft on the inside (check by slowly pressing on the peel). However, if you choose to cook them on a pan or a tray, make sure you’re not sentimentally attached to it.It may easily get damaged.
You may find different methods and suggestions regarding this step. Some prefer to cut the green part of the aubergine so it cooks better.
Experiments with this idea proved that there is some inconvenience to
this method. One is that excessive juices from inside the eggplant may
drip while cooking, if the green part is not cut at a right size.
Second is that while cooking you may find it difficult to grip the
aubergines when you want to turn them. Here is where the green part
comes in handy, giving you the possibility to manipulate the
vegetables while cooking.
Step 2: peeling the aubergines
Once you have your aubergines well cooked, you need to peel them.
This process may be somewhat uncomfortable due to the fact that the inside
of the aubergines is very hot and cools down very slowly. What you need to do is peel them under the tap with cold water flowing on your finger so you don’t get burned.
You will find that the peel comes off rather easily and the process is shorter compared to the cooking. However, don’t hurry. Make sure you get every little bit of the peel off.
If there is peel in the salad, you will have some bitter bites when you eat it.
Step 3: the chopping
Use a cutting board and a good long knife. What you need to do is to chop the cooked, peeled aubergines very finely using swift movements of the knife. If the aubergine is properly cooked, you will discover that chopping them is not problem.
You will stop chopping once the aubergine has turned into a homogeneous creamy paste, which you place into a pot or bowl, and continue with chopping the second aubergine and so on.
Step 4: mixing ingredients.
You can either chop the onion finely or you can use a grater. If you use a grater be sure to use a sieve in order to drain most of the water from the onion. You don’t want your eggplant salad to be too moist. Second, use the recipe for home-made mayonnaise (you can find that in the next post) to make as much as you need for the salad, and mix all of the 3 ingredients, add salt, and finally mix it well.