Kosher salt (Recipe: Moroccan eggplant salad)
First published in May 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, link, and tweaks to the recipe. The eggplant salad, taught to me by a neighbor who grew up in Morocco and owned our local dry cleaning shop, is perfect for summer, when both eggplant and tomatoes come straight from the garden.
Is kosher salt, the darling of chefs and cookbook authors, just another flaky food fashion?
Is it saltier than table salt, better for health or baking or taste?
Is all kosher salt the same?
Is it even kosher?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Kosher salt -- which really should be called koshering salt -- is a coarse-grained salt, named for its use in the production of kosher meats. (It helps to draw blood out of meat, much like drawing water out of eggplant or zucchini.) Unlike table salt, which since the 1920s has had iodine and starch added, kosher salt (specifically Diamond Crystal brand, which is the one I keep in my pantry) is additive-free.
It also differs from table salt in another important way. Table salt is granular, while kosher salt (again, I'm talking about Diamond Crystal brand) is shaped like a tiny, delicate, four-sided hollow pyramid; food scientist Shirley O. Corriher describes this as the difference between an ice cube and a snowflake. About 90 percent of granular salt dropped onto an inclined surface bounces off, she explains, while 95 percent of the "snowflake", or kosher salt, will stick to the surface. The kosher salt also dissolves in half the time that granular dissolves.
Morton's Kosher Salt, the other major brand available in supermarkets, is actually granular salt that has been pressed flat into snowflakes; in other words, it's a completely different type of salt than Diamond Crystal, though both are labeled "kosher salt." Please stick with Diamond Crystal; you can find it at your supermarket for approximately $2.00 for a three-pound box. Transfer the salt to a glass jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid; it will keep forever.
Kosher salt (which is kosher, as is nearly all salt) is a great all-purpose seasoning. I use it for all types of cooking and some baking, and I save my precious sea salt for finishing dishes.
Moroccan eggplant salad
2 eggplants (unpeeled), ends trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
Olive oil for frying
6 whole scallions, minced
1 tomato, minced
2 huge garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup minced fresh herbs -- a mix of parsley and cilantro
Juice of 1-1/2 lemons
1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Place eggplant slices in a colander, and toss with a generous amount (a couple of teaspoons) of kosher salt. Set the colander over a bowl or plate, and let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse the eggplant and dry well.
In a frying pan filmed with olive oil, saute the eggplant over medium heat until cooked through but not crispy brown, approximately 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Dice eggplant and place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly (with your hands -- the eggplant should break down), and set aside to marinate for several hours at room temperature.
Can be made up to 1 day ahead.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Roasted eggplant spread with garlic, pepper and onions
Cold aubergine salad
"Poor little eggplants"
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Grilled eggplant, grape tomato, and feta salad with amazing basil, parsley, and caper sauce, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled stuffed eggplant, from Andrea Meyers
Honey garlic grilled eggplant, from Beyond Salmon
Sichuan eggplant, from Simply Recipes
Pickled fairy tale eggplant, from Food in Jars