Aubergine, the underdog

Eggplants

‘I think I’m going underground’

He’s cool, he’s hip. He is Monsieur Auberge. He is the underdog of the vegetable world. Even though he looks slick and mysterious when raw and left whole, an aubergine has very little flavour in his raw state. Throw him on an open flame of a hob and within 20 minutes he is a collapsed a mess but tastes similar to what a Marlboro man looks like – hot and smoky.

Here is a recipe that will knock you off your feet – a South East Asian version of baba ganoush.

Burmese burnt aubergine

2 large aubergines
1/2 small red onion
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Garnish
1 banana shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

1. Place the whole aubergine over an open flame of the hob. Cook it over a medium-low flame for 5 minutes on each side or until it becomes soft and the skin begins to burst and collapse (about 25 minutes). Let the aubergine cool before handling.

2. Split the aubergine in two and scoop out the flesh. Mix it with the aubergine dressing ingredients. It should be hot, sweet, sour and slightly salty.

5. Heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a medium frying pan and add the shallots. Fry over a medium heat until crispy. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. Garnish the aubergine with the crispy shallot and serve with some grilled meats.

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