Q. Can suggest the best way to fry aubergines? As everyone knows, they soak up loads of oil, and if you try using less they don’t fry properly (I find they end up raw in parts the oil has missed and burnt in others, instead of achieving the desired browning effect all over). I’ve tried a few techniques that are supposed to help – using very hot oil, salting first, cutting the aubergines longways – but they haven’t really helped. Do you have any suggestions?
A. I know what you mean, although I’ve always thought that that divine, oil-sodden squidginess of the aubergine is the whole point of it. However, I do appreciate that not everyone sees that slick that oozes down the throat when you eat a forkful of the fruit (technically speaking an aubergine is a fruit, not a vegetable, by the way) in quite the same light. You can always drain your aubergine slices on kitchen towel after frying, which will soak up some of the surplus. I have also consulted a very useful little book called Don’t Sweat the Aubergine by Nicholas Clee. Mr Clee has researched out most of the methods recommended by various authorities. He reckons the salting method makes no difference to taste or texture. He recommends cutting the aubergines into cubes; putting the cubes onto a roasting tray; pouring oil for over them (1 tbsp per medium-sized aubergine) and roasting them at 200C/Gas 6 for 20-30 minutes until tender. On the other hand, Harold McGee suggests pre-cooking the aubergine in a microwave to collapse the spongy structure before frying it.