Eggplant in sweet and sour sauce
Many years ago there was a big and wealthy Jewish population living in Siciliy with an extravagant kitchen. One of their dishes was “Il Capone”, bluefish topped with eggplants in sweet and sour sauce, roasted almonds and cocoa powder. The poor part of the Sicilian population couldn’t afford the fish and made a dish of only the topping with eggplants and called it caponata. Today caponata represents the heart of the Sicilian kitchen. It is made differently in every region on the island depending on the local products and the traditions.
Caponata is served at room temperature as an appetizer. But you might as well serve it as a sidedish to grilled fish or meat. If you show up in a party with caponata, people will love it. Caponata is so different than everything else and it goes well with bread, cheese and salads.
This recipe is from Vincenzo Clemente. At his restaurant Ristorante Cin Cin you can get caponata with octopus, inspired from the impressing baroque periode in Siciliy where caponata was served with even more exclusive products.
About the prosess of making caponata: In Norway the eggplants are so dry so we don’t need to salt and rinse them before we start to cook. You can choose to deep fry the eggplant in sunflower oil or fry it on high heat in olive oil. Make sure that the cubes are not too small. You may need to fry the eggplant in batches.
- extra virgin olive oil
- sunflower oil for deep-frying
- 3 medium size eggplants (800 g)
- 2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 celery stalks, including the leaves, sliced
- 1/2 cup green olives (pitted and coarsely chopped)
- 200g tinned whole tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons capers, (well rinsed)
- chopped toasted almonds for decoration
- dark cocoa powder for decoration
This is how you make caponata:
- Cut the eggplants into 2 cm (3/4 in) cubes. Salt well and set aside for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, rinse the eggplant under running cold water, let drain.
- Deep-fry cubes of eggplant in sunflower oil until crisp and golden brown. Drain on a kitchen paper.
- Place the fried eggplants in a casserole dish.
- Have the onion and celery in a big pan, add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water. Add salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Sweat and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the tomatoes, put the heat on high and stir.
- Add salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Add sugar and stir gently on high heat .
- Add the white wine vinegar. Simmer on high heat until you don’t smell the vinegar any longer, about 5 minutes.
- Add olives and capers. Stir and simmer for two more minutes.
- Pour the still hot sweet and sour sauce on top of the fried eggplants.
- Sprinkle with toasted almonds.
- Serve at room temperature with a dash of dark cacoa powder.