The combination of steamed and raw eggplant gives this Thai-style dish great textural interest, while a tangy salted-chilli condiment served alongside lets you control the amount of heat. It's great to serve with all manner of Asian dishes and keeps well in the fridge for a couple of months.
- 4 small Japanese eggplant, thickly sliced
- 8 apple eggplant, trimmed (see note)
- 2 tbsp vegetable or grapeseed oil
- 300 gm minced pork
- 2 red or golden shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 red birdseye chillies, thinly sliced, or to taste
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp crushed palm sugar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ cup each (loosely packed) coriander, Thai basil and mint
- To serve: pork crackling (optional; see note)
- 6 red birdseye chillies, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp each fish sauce and rice vinegar
- 1For salted chilli, process ingredients in a small food processor until finely chopped and set aside until required. Refrigerate in a sterile container for up to 2 months.
- 2Steam Japanese eggplant until tender (4-5 minutes), then set aside. Meanwhile, thinly slice apple eggplant on a mandolin and stand in iced water to crisp (4-5 minutes).
- 3Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan over high heat, add pork and stir-fry until browned all over (4-5 minutes), then combine in a bowl with shallots, chilli and garlic. Set aside.
- 4Pound palm sugar with a mortar and pestle, then stir in lime juice and fish sauce.
- 5Drain apple eggplant, add to pork mixture, drizzle with lime juice mixture, toss to combine and serve on a platter over steamed eggplant and scattered with herbs and pork crackling.
Note Apple eggplant and pork crackling are available from Asian grocers.