The Best Way to Cook Eggplant Is in the Broiler

As far as I’m concerned, there is only one way to cook eggplants and it is in the broiler. (And okay, fine — I also like them grilled.) No pre-salting, no slicing, you just chuck them whole into the broiler, turn them occasionally, and they emerge papery-skinned, soft and caramelized, ready to be peeled and eaten warm or cold.

I learned the technique from a recipe in Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku, which tosses the broiled eggplant strips with a salty soy sauce dressing, grated ginger and lots of chopped green herbs. It’s fantastic, but it isn’t the only way to eat broiled eggplant. Any vinaigrette or dressing will soak into the eggplant chunks, sneaky sponges that they are, and transform them into something irresistible. (Even for eggplant haters like my mother, who loves the broiled eggplant with ginger and herbs.)

I prefer using skinny eggplants like Japanese or Indian varieties, which are less seedy and bitter than the round globe eggplants. They also broil up faster, usually in ten minutes or less. Globe eggplants can still be cooked in this way; they will just take longer to cook through and you are limited by the height of your broiler, particularly if you have an under-stove broiler drawer like me.

I turned this batch of broiled eggplant into a cool, creamy salad by tossing it with yogurt-dill dressing and chilling it in the fridge. (I used the dressing from this salad mixed with about 1 tablespoon of minced fresh dill.) It’s not terribly pretty to look at, but broiled eggplant is never going to win beauty contests. I love it anyway.

Broiled Eggplant

Yield: 4 servings

{ Ingredients }

4 large Japanese eggplants (or other skinny and/or small type of eggplant)

{ Directions }

Adjust the broiler or oven rack so it is as close to the heat source as possible and turn on the oven broiler. Place the eggplants directly on the oven rack. Broil, turning every 5 minutes or so, until eggplants are browned on all sides and very soft, 10 to 25 minutes total depending on the size. The skin should feel loose and papery. (Some of the eggplants might even burst, which is fine.)

Remove eggplants from the broiler and set aside until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, chop off the stem end and peel away the skin with your hands. Chop or tear the peeled eggplant into strips. Season with salt or the dressing of your choice.

• This method can be used to broil as many or as few eggplants as you need.