Thursday 17 May 2018

Steamed Aubergine Salad

I love aubergines - I love them deep fried, stewed, baked, stuffed, smoked, mashed. I love them curried, I love them in pasta, I love them moussaka'd. I even love them in salad which is what this recipe is for. 

This salad, with a combination of spicy, garlicky, savoury and sour is perfect spooned over rice or nests of rice noodles. It packs a punch - it's not a salad you can really eat on its own but it does make a light lunch or dinner. 

I especially like the ease of steaming aubergines and I use baby aubergines for this to aid cooking time; simply split into four at the stem (with the stem still holding them together), and 15 minutes is all you need to a quick dinner. 

You can also flame-char large aubergines on the gas hob or barbecue, or bake them until collapsed (prick the skin before baking) and scraping the insides out of the skins and having this as a smoky mashed salad; a Chinese babaganoush, if you will. 

Steamed Aubergine Salad

Serves 2 with other dishes, or 1 as a light dinner with rice / noodles

2 baby aubergines, split into four lengthways from the stem, stem still attached
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
A pinch of sugar
3 red birds eye chillis (fewer if you're chilli intolerant), minced
3 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
A small handful of coriander; stems roughly separated and chopped finely, leaves chopped roughly
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Place the aubergines in a steamer and steam for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Whisk together the light soy sauce, sugar, black vinegar, and sesame oil. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add the chilli, garlic and coriander stems. Cook on a medium heat for a minute, stirring and making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Remove from the heat and spoon into the dressing mixture. 

Remove the aubergines from the steamer - they should be collapsing a bit by now. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then cut the stem off and then the quarters in half again. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with the dressing. I quite like this salad warm but you can also now cling film and refridgerate in advance - bring back to room temperature to serve it. Garnish with sesame seeds and coriander before you serve it.