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
Ingredients
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 

40 comments:

  1. I'm developing a greater liking for aubergines. This is another way to go that might appeal to me.

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  2. Wait, you make your own sambal? That sounds amazing! *Goes off to search archives.*

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    1. Oops forgot to link it up! It's usually on the right hand popular posts column though. But jus linked it up, it definitely is one chilli paste worth making!

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  3. This looks amazing! I've made this recently too, albeit with the slimmer asian brinjal instead of the big fat round ones. Can't believe that we both posted this same dish on the same day. What are the odds?

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    1. I swear we are long lost twins.

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  4. Cute cute cute little aubergine family pic! This looks fab. I think you nailed it with spicy chili sauce! Mmmmmmmmm...

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  5. The aubergine drawing is really cute! I've never had this dish before, so thanks for introducing another way to enjoy this vegetable :)

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  6. OK, I love eggplant, but I'm absolutely chicken when it comes to spicy... just can't handle it... Maybe I can try this without the killer sambal? Nice pictures :-)

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    1. The killer sambal is the star of the show unfortunately, but, I can imagine this aubergine stack would be just as lovely with some fresh french goat's cheese and/or ripe tomatoes and olive oil!

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  7. Your graphics are tooo awesome! I showed my little girl and she asked whether I can draw like that (I am a graphic designer by trade), I told her nope, my illustration skills is not as wonderful, plus everyone's got their own style, and I am not born with your mad illustration skills... :(

    The egg plant dish looks mouth watering, I never thought about stacking them like that, almost like a beautiful center piece!

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    1. Aw your little girl is so cute! I didn't realise you're a graphic designer! Loads to look up too then, I'm only still in school. Funnily, illustration is not really my strong suit, I am more into quirky idea-based work, and a bit of a typophile.

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  8. How cute is your blog!! I love your illustrations and this sambal recipe is going to get a workout in my house!

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    1. Aw thanks anna! The sambal is super versatile and a must-have in my kitchen!

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  9. MY GAWDDDDD!!! You have completely won me over win this post... AGAIN! Looooove the feeling and excitement I get from looking at the food in your blog. THANK YOU!! This looks like what you would get in extremely uppity overpriced overrated Asian restaurants but you really showed them, with this one!! So quick, simple, easy, delicious and CHEAP. Boxes officially ticked. Now, I'm hungry.

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    1. Winston!!! HAHA you always make my day with your super enthusiastic comments! Thanks so much, though I must say, your blog posts are the ones that always make me hungry.

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  10. Oh my God - aubergine is my favourite... I just love how glossy and soft they look when they're all cooked up. I remember your sambal - I think I remember it being quite spicy... I don't want to be blowing my head off after all. Will need to go back and check it out again. Thanks for sharing the stack Shuhan - how did you eat it - as a starter, a snack, or a main?

    As for salting - if you're roasting or grilling then it's true, but I find that if I'm frying them (my preferred method) salting yields the best results. It makes them more withered and less able to suck up vast quantities of oil (which is later expelled again) so you need way less oil to get a good "glossy" fried aubergine slice.

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    1. You can always adjust the spice level by using less spicy chillies, an incentive to make your own! It would be good as a starter, but we're prob serving it as a main alongside other sides, and with rice for the sup club.

      Good advice on the salting! I used to think it was merely a bitterness issue, but I see now it's also that grease issue. I haven't been frying aubergines much I must say, so will keep this salting tip in mind for when I do x

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  11. What an amazing photo and this looks delicious too.

    Your supper club pop-up sounds amazing Shu Han...I wish we could make it but can't...Do you still have places? I can put it on my facebook page if you like I have a lot of friends in London?

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    1. Aw thanks deb you're a star! I have one last seat up for grabs!

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  12. Oh yummy! Two of my favorites in one dish, how can I resist! The pictures are amazing! Make me wanna grab that plate out of the screen! LOL

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  13. Aubergine. Sigh, I *love* aubergine. The reigning monarch of vegetables (even though I guess it's really a berry). To my mind the best aubergine dishes I've eaten are a good smoky baba gamoush and fish fragrant aubergines, Sichuan style. That last one had me licking a plate in a restaurant. I've never tried this dish though, so who knows, it might make it on to the pantheon ;)

    It's a really good tip re the grilling of slices instead of an oil bath, it can really help keep the richness down, but still deliver that sumptuous taste and almost obscene texture. And they go so well with chilli. So as one chilli aubergine fan to another, I salute you!

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    1. the yu xiang qie zi which I mentioned in the post is the sichuanese fish fragrant aubergines you talk about! That is one of my favourite ways with aubergines too! I'm surprised you didn't mention moussaka given your post about it! I do love that too. Actually I can't really think of a way I don't liek it. Hmm.. steamed perhaps? I think no matter what it needs some sort of oil/smoking heat! And well, chilli does make evrything better doesn't it? Thanks for the salute heh, I'm honoured!

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  14. Oh my gosh girl, you're making my mouth water!! I love eggplants/aubergines...they are sooo yummy. This recipe looks divine and when we start seeing them roll in in a month or so at the Farmer's Market, I'll give it a whirl :)

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  15. I love sambal, which I only discovered when I moved to Holland. There's a lot of Indonesian restaurants here who carry it. Aubergines, I adore. It's in my Greek blood, we eat aubergines like crazy.

    That's a wonderful dish you've made.
    Nice finding your blog!

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    1. I know what you mean, when I went to greece in march, my friend and I ate more aubergines in that 1 week than I had in the past few months. I do love it though (: And thanks so much!

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  16. Sambal + aubergine = true love. If I knew how to make that heart symbol, I would. Maybe it's <3.

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    1. Hur, I'm a total noob at this too. I copy and paste.

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  17. What a gorgeous presentation! I have always considered the aubergine as a beautiful vegetable, but I have never seen it presented so perfectly when cooked.
    The older I am the more I love aubergines, so I keep on looking for new recipes and if they include a hot delightful sauce, such as your sambal, I'm really happy. I must make your sambal one day (I know, I keep on repeating myself, but I will prepare it one day, I promise).
    PS The different aubergines are really cute :-)
    Oh, and I am also a fan of Courage!

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    1. Aw thanks sissi! I really do hope this is the final push to get you to make that sambal haha!
      Heh Courage was a pretty awesome cartoon wasn't it! Pity they stopped it :(

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  18. I've been wanting a few more good eggplant recipes - this sounds wonderful!

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  19. so i have a huge eggplant i picked up from the farmer's market. it's not the usual long shape, rather it looks like a very overgrown tomato. i'm a little bit in love with it and i was going to spend the day looking for a recipe to make with it. i am inspired by the stacking method, it really does make for a pretty plate, but i will admit that the sambal is freaking me out. i like spicy food, but lately, it's not been liking me...

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    1. Oh no, in that case, stack it and layer it with tomatoes and basil or sth, an italian take, and it will look quite gorgeous! I tend to avoid huge eggplants btw, in case they;re too mature, old eggplants tend to be abit bitter.

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  20. Love sambal aubergine. Nice presentation!

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  21. Very nice presentation and I am sure love this dish as I love everything with sambal.

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  22. really lovely dish, spicy, fragrant, lots of umami - and aubergines are so difficult to photograph - you nailed that one, too. x s

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    1. thanks s, that means alot coming from you! (:

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  23. Haha...your second paragraph made me laugh! I personally love eggplants and eat them often. I can't imagine them as evil :D

    Anyway, your grilled eggplants paired with sambal belacan does look like a killer. I would love to taste it.

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    1. I really was terrified of them as a kid haha.

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  24. Ooooh, yum - I love aubergines - this looks like a killer combination of smoky and spicy. And I was just saying yesterday on Twitter that I wanted a homemade sambal recipe! Yum :)

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  25. This is so close to our Indian style of cooking aubergines in terms of spices used like sambal paste. Loved how you presented the aubergine dish. Lovely!

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