Magazine article Sunset

Adding Zip to Eggplant with Southeast Asian Seasonings

Magazine article Sunset

Adding Zip to Eggplant with Southeast Asian Seasonings

Article excerpt

Asian cooks often treat eggplant as a big, absorbent sponge, letting its soft, mildtasting flesh soak up spicy sauces.

In our first entree, from Cambodia, eggplant is steamed, then bathed in a lemoncurry sauce. The second dish, from Sichuan, China, features eggplant slices filled with pork, fried until crisp, then served with a garlic-chili sauce.

In either recipe, you can use the slender Oriental eggplant or the plumper, eggshaped globe type. Look for the chili paste and bean sauce in Asian markets, or use the alternatives suggested.

Cambodian Steamed Eggplant

1 to 1 1/4 pounds Oriental or globe

eggplant, peeled and ends removed

1 large lemon

2 tablespoons salad oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup chopped shallots

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 tO 3/4 teaspoon Asian red chili paste

or sauce, or 1/2 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies

1/4 pound ground lean pork

1/4 pound tiny shelled cooked shrimp

1 cup canned coconut milk

Fish sauce (nuoc nam) or soy

sauce

2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint

leaves Cut Oriental eggplant lengthwise in half if thicker than 2 inches; cut globe eggplant into 1 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Set eggplant in a shallow bowl or rimmed plate that will fit inside a steamer. Place on a rack above 1 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam until eggplant is soft when pressed, about 30 minutes. (Or place on a nonmetal rimmed platter or plate, cover with plastic wrap, and cook in a microwave oven at full power 100 percent-until soft when pressed, 12 to 14 minutes.) Set the eggplant aside; keep warm.

Meanwhile, with a vegetable peeler, pare a few strips of peel (yellow part only) from lemon. Cut enough peel into thin shreds to make about 1 tablespoon. Then ream lemon to make 2 tablespoons juice; set aside.

Set a 10- to 1 2-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, ginger, shallots, turmeric, and chili paste; stir until shallots are limp, about 2 minutes. Add pork; stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and coconut milk; stir until hot, Add lemon juice and fish sauce to taste.

Transfer eggplant to a rimmed serving platter; if needed, drain off and discard accumulated liquid. Pour the coconutmeat sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle with lemon peel and mint slivers. Makes 3 or 4 main-dish servings. Per serving., 298 cal. …

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