For shallow-frying and deep-frying:vegetable oil8garlic cloves, thinly sliced2large eggplant (about 500gm each)4red birdseye chillies, coarsely chopped 4spring onion bulbs, coarsely chopped1 cup(loosely packed) coriander, coarsely chopped, plus extra leaves to serve4-5 piecesblack sesame rice paper (see note)1 tspsesame oil
Heat vegetable oil to 160C in a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat, add garlic and stir frequently until golden (1-3 minutes), remove garlic and drain on absorbent paper.
Cook eggplants, weighted with a plate, in 2 large saucepans of boiling water over high heat until tender (15-20 minutes). Remove eggplant, then, when cool enough to handle, peel, then drain in a colander (discard skin and water).
Pound chilli and ¾ tsp sea salt in a mortar and pestle, add spring onion and coriander and pound to a coarse paste. Add eggplant and crush it into the paste with a circular motion (you can do this in batches; alternatively, you can use a food processor), then season to taste. Makes 2½ cups.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer to 180C and deep-fry rice paper in batches until puffed and crisp (1-2 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Drain well on absorbent paper and serve with Hmong spicy eggplant mash drizzled with sesame oil and scattered with fried garlic and coriander leaves.
Note Black sesame rice paper is available from Vietnamese grocers. If unavailable, substitute plain dried rice paper or prawn crackers.
This recipe is from the September 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
“This dish comes from the Hmong, a minority group who live in the northern hills straddling Cambodia and Vietnam. Their food is austere and spicy,” says Lindsay. This dish works equally well as a side for the pork belly recipe.