[Boca Chica,Chiriquí, Panamá, 08° 12' N/082° 12' W]
Boca Chica ("small mouth") sits on the mainland but is a gateway to Panamá's lovely Pacific islands. Boca Chica is a small fishing village, though the surrounding land is pure farmland, with undulating hills dotted with "vaca". We were fed this delicious dish while visiting friends, Fred and Samantha, Americans who have settled in Boca Chica.
About 2 Lb. eggplant
Salt to taste
6 Tb extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped or ca. 1 1/2 c canned tomatoes, drained and crushed
3 Tb capers, drained
1 Tb sugar
1 Tb red or white wine vinegar
handful chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 c raisins soaked in red wine (add with onions in step 2)
1/2 c lightly toasted pine nuts (add with capers in step 3)
1/2 c pitted chopped green or black olives (add with capers in step 3)
1. Peel eggplant if you like, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Salt them liberally and place in a colander for a half hour or more. Rinse thoroughly then press between paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
2. Place olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant, stirring and shaking almost constantly until it absorbs all the oil and begins to brown and soften. Add black pepper, onion, garlic, red pepper and tomatoes and continue to cook until all of the vegetables soften and the mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook; vegetables should remain distinct.
3. Add capers, sugar and vinegar, parsley, additional salt (probably not needed) or black pepper. Remove from heat. Serve at room temperature. This keeps well for up to a week. Always bring to room temperature before serving with bread or crackers.