More healthy eating before I get onto the total shameless gluttony that occurred in Hong Kong. This time it’s with one of my favourite vegetables, the ever versatile aubergine. I love the flavour one gets when burning an aubergine…burning may be too harsh a word. Essentially it’s cooking a whole aubergine until its skin is charred and the entire thing is soft. The silky, uncharred flesh inside develops a smokiness that is particularly good in salads.
I came across this aubergine salad in Mai Pham’s excellent cookbook Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table and had to try what appeared to be an extremely simple recipe (adapted to feed the two of us). It’s certainly a dish that’s more than the sum of its grand total of five ingredients (four if you don’t include salt). The silky vegetable gets coated in a savoury mixture of spring onion and fish sauce and somehow just pulls together into something you can’t stop scoffing. Good stuff.
This salad ended up being part of a meal we ate with white rice, long beans fried with egg and leftover curry.
Vietnamese Aubergine Salad
serves 2-3 as a course with rice.
3 large, long Asian aubergines
1.5 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large spring onion, thinly sliced
0.5 tbsp fish sauce
a pinch of salt
Grill your aubergines until their skins are black – I whack them onto our gas stove and char them. You can also throw them into a very hot oven or better yet, under the grill. You want the skins to be black and the insides all soft. Leave until cool enough to handle.
When cool enough to handle, peel the blackened skins off and cut each aubergine into lengths of about 5-6 cm and cut each length into 4-6 strips (depending on how you like your aubergine pieces).
Heat a small frying pan (or any frying pan really) and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the spring onion and stir until wilted. Take off the heat and stir in the fish sauce and salt. Toss this dressing with the aubergine strips.
Serve warm or at room temperature.