This recipe is the Nuyorican way of making stuffed eggplant. Eggplant is a popular vegetable in our culture.. We prepare it fried, stewed, baked, and, as in this dish, stuffed. What makes our dish different is that we stuff it with seafood. Specifically, crabmeat, conch meat or shrimp. This goes back to life on the island of Puerto Rico, where seafood was a major component of the diet. And it transferred to when we migrated to the mainland. And, we did substitute some changes. In Spanish Harlem, our family, when times were lean, would stuff the eggplant with canned tuna and, you know what, it tasted just as good.
Th recipe itself is simple enough. Just mixed the eggplant pulp with the crabmeat, bread crumbs and seasonings and stuff the eggplant shell. Note that the seasonings include aji dulce. Think of small chili peppers that are sweet. Aji in Spanish means ‘chili pepper’ and dulce means ‘sweet’ Some may consider this a contradiction in terms but, it is what it is. These peppers are popular in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine and can be found in Latino food markets and, even online.
This dish is not your usual stuffed eggplant recipe as in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cooking. As stated, this is our Nuyorican version and, as delicious as they come. Enjoy.
1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup water
I pound crabmeat (canned is okay)
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
3 aji dulce (sweet chili pepper), seeded and chopped
6 fresh cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop our inner pulp but do not pierce outer shell. Save pulp.
3. Pour water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add eggplant pulp and steam, covered, until soft. Drain, remove pulp and mash thoroughly.
4. In a large bowl, combine pulp, crabmeat, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, aji dulce, cilantro and eggs.
5. Brush inside of eggplant shells with olive oil. Stuff shells with crabmeat mixture. Dot each shell with a teaspoon of butter and bake for ½ hour.
Yield: 4 servings.