I absolutely love aubergine. Whether as melanzane parmigiano, baba ganoush, imam bayildi, aubergine bhajees...etc etc... it's a hot contender for my fav veggie.
Here's a v.tasty SEAsian (i think Burmese in origin) recipe which results in delicious rich velvety textured aubergine, countered by spring onion & fresh herbs with a deep flavoured sweet-spicy sauce to dip it all in. Is inspired by an Alistair Hendy recipe i read and roughly scribbled down down quite a while ago.
Top pics by my mate benbroomfield http://www.benbroomfield.com/
If you can get the long purple Japanese aubergines they're perfect here, but if not then the normal sort will also work fine.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 3 japanese aub's or 2 large normal ones.
- plain (groundnut, peanut, sunflower) oil for deep frying
- 2 tbsp palm sugar (grated if the rock-hard type)
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce (pref a good brand - Thai 'squid' brand is a decent option)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- 3-4 chopped shallots (pref red ones)
- 3-4 bird eye chillies
- 3 large red chillies
- juice of 1.5 limes
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp (optional)
- 2-3 spring onions
- herbs small handful of picked leaves from any 2 of ..mint, coriander, thai basil, pak chee farang etc
- Toast shrimp paste - wrap in foil and toast in dry pan for 5 mins or so on med heat.
- Chop garlic, shallot, chillies roughly.
- Pound them all + toasted shrimp paste in a pestle and mortar (or, if not possible, then use hand blender, you might need touch of water to bind) until quite smooth.
- Take this paste and fry in tablespoon of oil until fragrant, about 2 mins.
- Now add palm sugar plus a tablespoon of water, bubble, then add fish sauce, bubble up then turn off the heat and squeeze in the lime juice and mix through.
- Taste for balance (more fish sauce / sugar?) and set aside.
- Finely slice spring onion at an angle, pick the herbs, grind / whizz up the dried shrimp (if using) in to a course powder.
- Now fry the aubergine - heat a 2 inch depth of oil in a wok or pan until hot (put oil in pan and leave on med-high heat for a good 5 mins, the aubergines should sizzle vigorously when u add).
- If using jap aub's then cut in to 3 inch lengths, if using normal cut them in half lengthwise then each half in to 4 quarters lengthwise.
- Fry the aubergines until soft and golden, drain well on kitchen roll.
- Place on a plate, scatter with the spring onions, herbs and ground shrimp (if using). Place a dipping bowl of sauce on the side.
if you dont want to deep fry you could brush with little oil and grill, or even roast in skins before peeling.
with rice and some stir fried pork with herbs (e.g holy basil) this would make a seriously yum meal.