Vegetarian and Vegan Delights of NYC: Sera Grilled Eggplant

Sera Grilled Eggplant: nightshade in a jar.
Sera Grilled Eggplant: nightshade in a jar.

All too often, eggplant meets a humiliating fate at the hands of cooks who render it limp, slimy, or greasy, unthinkingly suffocate it under layers of congealed cheese, or just drown it in sauce. All of which makes the notion of eggplant in a jar both intriguing and terrifying -- left to its own devices, it could be heavenly. Or, depending on the cooking method involved, absolutely nasty.

Awe-inspiring aubergine
Awe-inspiring aubergine

Fortunately, Russians tend to know from eggplant, and Sera Grilled Eggplant falls firmly in the realm of the weirdly sublime. A ubiquitous presence in the stores lining Brighton Beach Avenue, it admittedly doesn't look like much -- it's just mashed-up eggplant, in a jar -- but has a texture that falls somewhere between silk and velvet and a flavor that's smokey enough to put most barbecue pits to shame. It's easy to scarf half a jar without even noticing -- given that it's only eggplant, salt, and a bit of citric acid, the entire jar's 13 servings provide the daily caloric needs of an amoeba. Altogether, it's like a nightshade fever dream, and further proof that where fruit and vegetables are concerned, less is so often more.

Available at M&I International Food, 249 Brighton Beach Avenue, 718-615-1011


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