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Most recipes call for slicing & salting the eggplant, then letting it rest for about 15 minutes,and rinsing & patting it dry prior to cooking. This helps to reduce it's bitterness. Another method is to soak it in milk (or water) to do the same thing. Eggplant will soak up liquid & oil, which may be a little problematic depending on what dish you are making if you soak it rather than salting and rinsing it.
I only soak in milk if I am going to fry, so oil can't penetrate. Of course flouring and battering or breadcrumbing too. Otherwise I salt. And I squeeze carefully but well after salting.
My hubby is the eggplant parm chef in our home, so I asked him! He soaks it in milk first and then salts it. It always is incredibly delicious and is a dinner guest favorite, so I guess he is doing something right!
Neither. Modern eggplant varieties are not as bitter as old varieties; the salting and soaking in milk was done in order to remove the bitter elements, a step that is no longer necessary to enjoy eggplants. However, if you want to remove excess water from the fruits (for eating raw or pickling), salt is the way to go, just make sure you rinse out your eggplants before squeezing the juices out, otherwise it will be too salty.