There is no cuisine in the world in which people do not preserve fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes at their seasonal best, and also, meats for future use. They are preserved in salt, sugar, vinegar, oil… dried, fermented, smoked, jam’d, pickled and so on. The invention of refrigeration/freezer gives us more options to store prepared food/ingredients which could be used at a later time in putting together in preparing dishes.
Eggplants: In summer, when Japanese eggplants are at their best and prices reasonable, a crate is purchased…. peeled, degorged , fried and stored, 6 pieces in each freezer plastic bag. (Other produce stored frozen: prepared herbs, okra, celery, green beans, zucchini, etc.).
Needed for this recipe:
• 6 Japanese eggplants
• vegetable oil
◊ Peel eggplants. Chop stem off but keep hat-like top near the stem intact (this helps handling of the eggplants while and after cooking).
◊ Put peeled eggplants in a colander with a deep dish under it or put it in the sink. Sprinkle salt generously all over the eggplants and let them sweat for 20~ minutes to extract bitterness/toxins and excess liquid. This process is called ‘degorging' (it also helps to fry faster and absorb less oil). Rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
◊ In a fry pan, pour oil (enough to cover eggplants half-way while frying) and put on medium. When the oil ripples, place eggplants in the oil. Fry both sides until well-browned (not burned). Set aside for next step of cooking or pack to freeze for future usage.
 Degorging: – The bitterness in eggplant is caused by toxins that build up if the eggplant has grown slowly (hence, it’s more of a problem in colder countries, less of a problem in sunny, Mediterranean climates). It is less likely to be a problem with smaller, heavier eggplants.
These toxins can also cause gastric upsets. Salt may be used to reduce bitterness/toxins. Cut eggplants as called for in the recipe. Then either soak in salted water or sprinkle the dry, just peeled or cut pieces all over with salt. The eggplant will give off a brownish sweat, which before cooking, should be rinsed and pat dried by paper towel.
Stew Meat: When good cuts of meat are on sale (I prefer chuck-roast-cross rib cut), I buy 9Kg/ 20 lbs and trim/cut/sear/simmer them. Since the meat cooks to about half its weight/size, it yields 10 plastic storage boxes/bags of about 545 g/ 1.2 lbs each (liquids included) to freeze.
Needed for this recipe:
• 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• 900 g/ 2 lbs stew beef cut in 5cm/2″ cubes
• 1 bay-leaf
• 2 cups water
◊ In a medium sauce pan, add oil and on high heat, as soon as oil is hot, add cut onions and stirring constantly, sauté for 2 minutes. Add meat and sear all around. Add water, bay-leaf and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 1.5~2 hours, until meat is done, but not over-cooked. There should be ½ cup of liquid left . Set aside for next step of cooking or pack to freeze for further usage.
Caramelized onion: In my opinion, crispy caramelized onions are “the” secret taste of more dishes than we can imagine. It is best to make them when sweet onions are in season. Store several bottles of them in the freezer (if not “crispy” caramelized, because they stick together, best to store then in 1~2 Tbsp individual packets).
Recipe → Crispy Caramelized Onion.
Khoresh'e Bademjan • خورش بادمجان • Eggplant Stew
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
— One of the most requested dishes in Persian households, and the one non-Iranians want to learn.
• 545 g/ 1.2 lbs cooked stew meat/beef with liquid (lamb, veal or poultry may be used)
• 6 Japanese eggplants, fried
• 6 small cloves garlic in their skin
• 1½ Tbsp quality tomato paste
• 1 tsp hot pepper paste
• ½ tsp salt
• ground black pepper to taste
• ¼ tsp turmeric
• smidgen (1/32 tsp) ground saffron dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water
• 1/2 cup verjuice
• 1 cup hot water
• 2 ~ 3 Tbs caramelized onion (equivalent 1 large onion, caramelized in 3 ~ 5 Tbsp oil)
◊ Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 175°C/350°F.
◊ In 33 cm x 23 cm x 5 cm deep (13” x 9” x 2”) oven-safe dish, line eggplants all around edges.
(It also may be simmered in a pot on very low heat. You may need to add a little more hot water to make sure it does not dry up.)
◊ Put garlic in the middle. They are kept in their skin only to give the dish subtle flavor/aroma.
◊ Pour cooked meat pieces with its liquid over garlic pieces.
◊ In a small bowl, mix well the next 8 ingredients and pour all over eggplant and meat pieces.
◊ Sprinkle caramelized onion all over, cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
◊ Stew/khoresh is almost always served with Persian rice / polo.
Note: To avoid choking, please remove skins of garlic cloves before plating or tell diners to do so.
Vegan Option: This dish may be made vegetarian by skipping meat and using vegetable bouillon.
~ Noushe jan • نوش جان ~
A few important points in making an outstanding Persian/Iranian stew/khoresh:
♦ Don’t skimp on oil… use as much as needed for frying/sautéing. Boiling oil also cooks and adds flavor. It can be skimmed off before serving.
♦ Brown/sear onion and meat very well.
♦ Adding 1/16 ~ 1/8 tsp of ground saffron, dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water, will substantially add to taste.
♦ Don’t use too much water for cooking, just enough to steam and condense. –Simmer on low heat for a long time. This helps flavor fusion of ingredients.
♦ Best if stew is made a day in advance and refrigerated for taste to meld.
♦ Almost all stews can be frozen. Exception: If stew includes potato(es), potato pieces to be removed before freezing.
♦ There are red  stews (using tomato paste) and green  stews (using herbs). Garnishing red stews sparingly with caramelized onion before serving not only further enhances taste but visually enhances the dish.
 Slang: ‘red’ and ‘green’ are used to specify types of stews or mixed rices, using tomato paste vs. herbs respectively. This concept also helps host/hostess plan an event menu and serve a balance of reds and greens.
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?