We love to BBQ our veggies on Guam. As a matter of fact we love to BBQ just about anything. But one of our favorites dishes is BBQ'd eggplant soaked in coconut milk mixed with lemon finadene'. Talk about something that makes your taste buds explode!! You just have to try it out for yourself.
But there is an art to BBQing the eggplant. You don't just build a fire and slap any old eggplant on the grill. There are a few important things to remember. So here are a few tips....
First you need to pick the right type of eggplant to BBQ/grill. Pick eggplants that are about 6-8 inches long and are nice and plump. They will need a strong stem on them also. You don't want to use the long, slender type of eggplant. The reason why is that you want a lot of "meat" and that is what a plump eggplant provides. The long, slender eggplants just don't have enough meat on them for a good bite. But if that is all that is available, then by all means use what you got.
You want a young eggplant. The skin should be very shiny. The younger ones just taste better as in most things.
These eggplants are just about right. I would have liked them slightly younger, but they still had a sheen to them.
The strong stem is what you are going to use to turn the eggplant from side to side when you are BBQing them. The stem will also act as the "handle" for you to use when removing it from the finished dish and onto your plate. So when cooking the eggplant you definitely try to protect the stem from burning up.
Make sure that you puncture your eggplants. This allows for heat to penetrate quickly and steam to escape. It just provides for a more efficient grill.
I use a small knife but many use a fork to puncture the eggplants.
Now your fire is another item of concern. Regardless of the type of pit, protect the stems from the direct flames. So with a kettle grill, just build yourself a 2-zone fire, hot and cold. This way the eggplants will be grilled in the hot zones with the stems over the cold zone and the edge of the kettle if necessary.
And build your fire hot. This will cook the eggplants faster.
Here is a picture of the fire in a kettle grill...
Placement of eggplants on the grill with the stems protected from the direct flames.
Do not use a fork or tongs if you can. Using any typical BBQ instruments to turn the eggplants can result in the eggplant being damaged and the skin and meat being torn. You want the eggplant intact as much as possible so turn them using the stem. Of course this means that you will need to be wearing gloves to protect your hands from the heat, but that is the price you pay for having a nice looking eggplant.
You can also grill the eggplant directly on the coals with the stems off of the coals protected.
Here are a couple of eggplants being grilled directly on the coals. This is my preferred method as, in my opinion, the grilling is more complete and a whole lot faster.
When you are done grilling/BBQing your eggplants, they should look somewhat like these...
Finished eggplants with the skin blackened and the stems pretty much intact.
Of course the rest of the prep for the finished dish can be viewed here.
Here is a picture of the completed dish...
BBQ'd eggplant in coconut milk and lemon finadene'.
Of course there are many different recipes and ways to make this dish. As in anything, everyone has "their own way". But I brought out some tips just to help out.
Hope you enjoy making one of Guam's wonderful dishes.
Until next time....