Don’t be daunted by that diva demeanour – Friday’s very own chef Silvena Rowe is happy to answer all your kitchen queries
Q I recently ate a salad that included pan-fried slices of aubergine. When I tried to make it at home, my aubergine slices not only soaked up a lot of oil, but turned out soggy. Where did I go wrong?
A Aubergine soaks up a lot of oil when shallow-fried or even deep-fried. So it’s important to slice it and then scatter the slices with a coarse salt, setting them aside for about 30 minutes, to allow excess moisture to drain out. Rinse the slices well under running water to get rid of excess salt and then pat dry with a kitchen towel. Now your aubergine is ready to use.
If you plan on shallow-frying the aubergine, brush olive oil on one side of each slice and place them oil-side down in a very hot skillet or frying pan. You don’t need to add oil to the skillet. The heat will seal any leftover moisture in the aubergine, ensuring you get a crispy, brown finish.
Just before you flip the slices over to cook the other side, brush oil on the up-sides. If you were to brush oil on both sides at the very beginning, then the aubergine slices would simply soak it up and you’d end up with soggy aubergines. Let the other sides brown and then remove from the pan. Don’t lower the heat at any point.
Don’t crowd the pan with too many slices at once, as that would lower the temperature of the pan and again produce a soggy result.
To deep-fry aubergine, ensure the oil is smoking hot. The heat of the oil seals in the moisture, browns the surface of the vegetable quickly and gives you aubergine that is not too greasy.
Q Any ideas for leftover smoothie? I have about half a glass in my fridge and I don’t want to throw it away.
It’s important to salt the aubergine to remove excess moisture and get a crisp, golden slice
A There’s lots you can do with it. Pour it into an ice-cube tray and add the cubes to lemonade for extra colour and taste. Delicious. Or pour it into small paper cups, put a popsicle stick in and freeze. Kids will love these.
If the smoothie is fruit based, then you can pour it over a freshly baked sponge cake. Allow the cake to soak up the flavours from the smoothie before you slice it. Trust me, this is delicious.