This roasted eggplant salad is wonderfully intense, not only from the aromatic crispy garlic and fresh coriander, but also because the roasted eggplants give it a distinctive smoky flavour. The chopped peanuts and sesame seeds add a crunchy texture to the soft flesh, which is dressed with garlic oil, fish sauce and lime juice.
2 medium eggplants (I often use the long Japanese eggplants in this recipe)
2 small shallots, thinly sliced & soaked in cold water (the best tool for this is the Kyocera ceramic adjustable mandoline)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (I always have a jar of Maseri fried garlic in the house and often use that when in a rush, but it is always better to make fresh fried garlic as suggested)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1-2 hot thai red chillies. Finely chopped (I love this salad spicy and add these chillies, they look pretty too but it is completely optional)
1 teaspoon dried shrimps, pounded into floss (I don’t use this as I am not a fan of dried shrimp, but if you are for sure you can use it)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon roasted peanuts, chopped
small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
½ lime, juiced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (Red Boat brand if possible)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (I love drizzling toasted sesame oil)
The most important step in this recipe, and the one thing you cannot skip, is the roasting of the eggplant. Here’s how Ottolenghi describes it in his book Plenty:
To cook the eggplants on a gas stovetop, which is the most effective way, start by lining the area around the burners with foil to protect them. Put the eggplants directly on two moderate flames and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don’t catch fire. For an electric stove, pierce the eggplants with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning them a few times. The eggplants need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break.
Let it cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard. Remove the stem at this time as well. Mash the pulp with a fork and keep aside.
- While the eggplants are grilling, make the crispy garlic and oil.
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the garlic until golden and aromatic. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool.
- Drain the shallots and squeeze them in your hands to remove any water. Pop them in a bowl.
- Add the chopped red chillies if using.
- Add the mashed eggplant.
- Mix in 1 tablespoon of the frying oil and the garnishes.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning so there is a balance of salt and sourness.
- Serve while the salad is still a little warm or at room temperature.
I have been serving this salad with Black Seasame Brown Rice Snaps by Edward and Sons.