Easy Rojak Aubergine/Egg-Plant.
I have been dabbling with many different types of ingredients here in this country. I must admit I am not as adventurous as I want to be. In this time of the year autumnal fruits and vegetables are in season.
Aubergine or egg-plant is in season now. I am pretty sure aubergines don’t grow here unless in controlled environment. A lot of vegetables and fruits are imported. So I believe when non-indigenous (or rather those that are not normally grown here) fruits or vegetables are considered to be in season, it means that these fruits or vegetables are in season in their county of origin. E.g, egg-plants are imported from Africa, the Mediterranean, South Africa , and even South America. Figs, sweet corn, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, apples, etc. are now in season, too.
I have made a batch of blackberry and lime jam and have given it away. I still look forward to foraging for berries in the upcoming autumn.
I learned to eat egg-plant rather late in my life. I was not fond of it in my childhood as I was influenced by my mum who did not like it. So my love the taste was acquired away from home.
Aubergine is an ingredient used in Nyonya fish curry and is also widely used in Malay curries or ‘gulais’. The Chinese has this very popular Szechuan style aubergine, which is cooked in hot chilies with ground meat. A similar Thai style dish is equally tasty, with the addition of fish sauce. We, Malaysians, like to cook it with ‘sambal’ which is pounded chillis and ‘belachan’ which is dried shrimp paste.
Living in the UK, I hardly make my own sambal as my children and my other half don’t like them as it is too hot. So my food is now a bit bland at times.
The usual way of cooking aubergine is to deep fry it to give it aroma and colour. Usually , it is cut into batons or finger-sized pieces, deep fried in hot oil until it is charred and soft. It is then added to minced meat which has been flavoured with soy or fish sauce and some other ingredients, depending on the chef.
I was thinking about eggplant but I did not want it to be deep fried as it is fattening. So I boiled it instead. Of course it did not have the fried aroma, but it is by far a healthier option. I can forgo the aroma for fewer calories. At the same time I was longing for ‘rojak’, which is a Malaysian fruit salad with shrimp paste sauce, sprinkled with toasted peanuts and sesame seeds. So this is how this dish came about.
It is very easy to cook, no pounding nor using a chopper or blender. It takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish and tastes absolutely beautiful. I use only store cupboard ingredients, and you can buy any of these ingredients in your local supermarket. I used Lingham’s Ginger & Garlic Sweet Chilli Sauce and shrimp paste.
Try not to use Thai sweet chilli sauce as I find that it is overly sweet. If you do not have shrimp paste, you can use fish sauce. Just check the taste before you plate up.
Easy egg-plant with sweet chilli sauce and belacan.
1 medium purple egg-plant – about 350-400g
2 Tbspn sweet chilli sauce
1 Tspn or 1 cm cube belachan – toasted and crumbled.
2 stalks spring onions chopped, save some for garnish.
Soy sauce to taste
Freshly ground black pepper.
1 Tbspn toasted peanuts – toasted, skinned and coarsely pounded.
1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
1 stalk spring onion – chopped
1 Tsp garlic oil and crisps
A few dashes of sesame oil
- Cut the egg-plant into batons approximately 1cm x 1cm x 5cm. Soak them in salted water to prevent it from browning.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil. Drop in the cut egg- plant and stir and gently boil it for 4 to 5 minutes until it is soft.
- Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate.
- Cover with another similar sized plate and squeeze out the water over the sink. Squeeze as much water out as possible and set aside.
- In a frying pan over medium heat, add in the sweet chilli sauce and add then crumble in the belachan. Stir until the belachan dissolves.
- Add in the egg-plant and give it a good stir and make sure the sauce is evenly distributed.
- Lower the flame and let it simmer, stirring every now and then until the sauce is absorbed.
- Dish out and sprinkle with the garnishes.
There, the delicious dish in about 20 minutes from start to finish.
Please like and share with your friends if you like this post. This should motivate me to share more.
If you have any novel ideas, share your recipes! I’d love to hear them.