Monday, 16 July 2012
Killer Sambal Grilled Aubergine Stack
Quite an ominous title I know, but I thought it best to leave a word of warning. I've just made a giant batch of my infamous sambal, and I think I might have gone a little bit overboard with the chillies this time round. If the nutcase who grew up eating raw chillies from her backyard and requesting chillies with every non-spicy dish has actually shed tears, I'm a little worried for the innocent non-tropical beings coming to Wednesday's plusixfive supperclub.
Speaking of killer aubergines, it was not too long ago that I was simply terrified of them. Their hideous purple bulbous exterior and spongy insides scared me, and a Courage the Cowardly Dog episode with evil eggplants convinced me these vegetable were not fit to be eaten. But as with many foods that you hate, I believe you slowly acquire a taste for them, usually a case of social pressure or deciding it was time to grow up, but in this case, it was simply a case of yummy aubergines. Come summer, I've had aubergines stewed in ratatouilles, eggplants stuffed and roasted, brinjals in curries, and a lot of melitzana, fried, breadcrumbed, baked or pureed into a dip. But my fondest memory of them has to be that old nasi padang standby dish of sinfully greasy terung fried with sambal belachan.
I've done it with more snazz and less slime by slicing a fat British aubergine into rounds and grilling them instead, but still smothering them with a healthy dollop of sambal. If you insist on frying them, try to get hold of the slender thin-skinned Asian aubergines which will cook quickly without sucking up your whole bottle of oil. There's no need to salt aubergines, asian or not, if you avoid the old bitter ones. And if you've got cute weeny baby ones, you can just chuck them whole or halved into the oven and roast till point of collapsing softness.
Sambal Grilled Aubergine Stack
1 medium young eggplant
1-2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp unrefined palm sugar
2 tbsp of coconut oil/ oil on top of the sambal
2 tbsp of sambal tumis, less if you're chicken, more if you're mad
fresh coriander leaves, to finish
1. Slice the aubergine into 1/2" thick coins. Combine the fish sauce, sugar and oil together, and brush both sides of each slice with it.
2. Place on preheated grill for about 10-15 min till tender, turning once halfway and brushing with more oil if necessary. Or, if you have to do it in the oven, bake for about 20 min at 200 degrees celisus.
3. Once done, smear a bit of sambal tumis over each slice and enjoy or to make it look pretty, stack, alternating sambal and aubergine, and finishing with a sprinkle of coriander leaves.
The grilled aubergine takes on a delicious smokiness and dark glossy sheen to its skin, while its insides turn into a creamy pulp, a happy sponge soaking in the flavours of whatever you top it with. Feta if you're Greek, tomatoes if you're Italian, perhaps some doubanjiang for a modern yu xiang qie zi if you're Chinese, but if you're Singaporean, nothing can quite beat the sweet spiciness of a killer sambal chilli sauce.
Though, satay peanut sauce is pretty amazing too. See also:
Soy-sauce Roasted Aubergine with Satay Peanut Sauce