Eggplant Asian Salad, defining simplicity in its natural easy preparation and purest flavors, with high notes of juicy broiled Asian eggplants and a spicy vinaigrette that will tantalize your taste buds beyond belief.
Eggplant Asian Salad, a recipe that touches on texture, taste and follows the rule “simple is best”, adapted from a recipe found in “Phoenix Claws and Jade trees” by Kian Lam Kho, one that we chose for this month’s challenge of “Around the world in 12 plates”.
Eggplant, Asian ones that is, is one of those vegetables that is in the either you like it or you don’t category, I feel. For us, Nicoletta and I, it is a vegetable that graces our fridge quite often, and are always looking for new ways to feature this wonderful, uniquely tasting veggie. When I first saw the idea that had for a feature on international and cultural recipes, called “around the world in 12 plates” and it being Asian, I wanted in. Ever since I could remember, being fascinated with culture and demographics has been a huge passion and interest. Later in life when I was faced with a life-altering experience my search for inner peace and understanding took me to many different cultures and traditions, which led me to experience many wonderful and delicious dishes. One experience I will never forget carries that energy into creating this Eggplant Asian Salad!
There is an organization here called All Faith, I heard through the grapevine that there was to be a celebration taking place at one of our large venue buildings. One that would mark a moment of peace in a somewhat chaotic world. I was so curious and intrigued, that I made it my commitment to go. The experience was surreal, here you had faiths from all over the world celebrating together in one building. Not one overpowering the other, and a respect that I can only tell you had me crying several times. Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindu, new age, Indian, etc, etc, all under one roof. The singing, chanting, dancing, people holding hands, hugging, it was truly amazing. It ended with everyone partaking in a round dance. A tradition brought to us by the Native community. I had tears running down my face and I remember looking at this elderly lady right across for me crying also, and our thoughts were unison, for one moment in our lives, we had witness the beauty of unity. I felt as though the concrete was fading and it was becoming soft. The movement of thousands of people hand in hand, moving together, an experience I will take with me forever. So understand that if anyone has a round up or post that would involve culture and world recipes, I would be the one whole hearted in line to be a part of it.
Let’s go to a household in China and understand the makings of Eggplant Asian Salad!
As you already are aware of, Nicoletta and I love going to the Asian market here T&T. There is so much to see and so much to learn of all the products, unusual spices, dried vegetables, and unique ingredients, that we spend a lot of time in each isle looking, reading, in awe at such a wonderful pallet of textures, colors and flavors. This particular trip was to get the ingredients for this Eggplant Asian Salad. Asian eggplant, green onion, etc, but as always many other things ended up in the basket, plus a few shrimp rolls and tempura shrimp for a mid afternoon snack, as we got hungry there, who could help that with the aroma of the kitchen cooking up a storm. It was packed with people and many buying special items to celebrate the Chinese New Year, beautiful lanterns and figures hanging, that vibrant red color enticing you into a playfulness. I love the sweets, and many savoury dishes that will grace the tables of many Asian and not so Asian families. The year of the Rooster, for those of you that are this Chinese zodiac sign, it is your year, wish well and enjoy!
The reason I chose this recipe is because it is truly authentic cuisine and tradition. It features the eggplant as the star of the show in a most natural and simplistic way. Kian Lam Kho and his cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees illustrates and takes us on a wonderful journey of authentic Chinese cooking. We did not have all the ingredients for his recipe but used similar ingredients to achieve a somewhat similar result. The process is quite easy: the eggplants are broiled in a nice hot oven on a roasting pan, then cooled, peeled and cut very artistically to preserve their shape. A very spicy and flavorful dressing is made with various ingredients such as sesame and chili oil, chinkiang black vinegar, ginger and garlic, for all the ingredients you will have to check out the recipe. The combination of that eggplant and the drizzling of this vinaigrette is absolutely stunning and delicious.
Nicoletta and I dove right into this dish. The soft velvety texture of the eggplant melting in our mouths, so beautifully flavored by the vinaigrette. Hits of garlic, ginger, the toasted hints of the sesame oil and pungent black vinegar, brought down a notch with the little bit of sugar that went in. Green onion pleasing our taste buds at every turn, along with that peppery nature of the parsley all these ingredients working in harmony and balance to make the eggplant shine in all its glory, kind of like that round dance, almost brings a tear to my eye….
Thanks to Gabby Peyton The Food Girl in Town, for creating and including us in Around the World in 12 Plates, so grateful for being a part of it!
Song of the day: “Creep” by Radio Head.
- 3 Asian eggplants
- 1 green onion thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped
- 1 red chili slivered
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 table spoon chili oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinkiang black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon minces green onion
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Wash, dry and place Asian eggplant on a broiling pan, with drip catch.
- Place in oven on a higher rack and broil for 8 minutes.
- Turn eggplant and put back into oven for another 8 minutes. You will notice the skin is wrinkled and blistered.
- Take out of oven and set aside to cool.
- In a saute pan toss in black peppercorns. Toss on med to high heat making sure to shake pan so peppercorns get nice and toasted.
- Pour in vegetable oil into pan with peppercorns and turn heat to low and saute for 10 minutes.
- Strain oil into a heat safe mixing bowl using a strainer and throw peppercorns away.
- In the oil add sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil, minced garlic, ginger and green onion,chili flakes, Chinkiang black vinegar, and blend with a whisk.
- Finally add sugar and whisk again til well blended. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Take eggplant and starting at the end peel skin upwards to the stem till all the skin is off, leaving the stem in place.
- Cut eggplant starting from end of the stem and down the middle. Place on plate.
- Repeat this process with the other two eggplants.
- Whisk dressing again and drizzle over eggplant.
- Garnish with thinly sliced green onion, and chopped fresh parsley.
- Ready to serve. Enjoy!
If you don't like too much spice you can moderate the amount of chili flakes and chili oil.
Make sure you check the rest of the amazing fellow bloggers that met the challenge for “Around the World in 12 Plates, China”.
The Food Girl in Town: http://thefoodgirlintown.com/2017/01/30/around-the-world-in-12-plates-china
Disclosure: All links in our post are NOT affiliate links. They are only about products we normally purchase, or places and blogs we like.