"I love eggplant for its silky texture and versatility," says Victor Liong. "This is a nice side to accompany a banquet. It has a lot of fragrant spices and recalls the cooking styles of the northern provinces of Dongbei and Xinjiang. It's a nice link to the days of the Silk Road." The chilli oil makes double what you need, but will keep refrigerated for a month.
- 4 large eggplant (about 400gm each)
- 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- Coriander leaves and
Lao Gan Ma chilli crisp sauce (see note), to serve
- 40 gm white miso
- 40 gm Kewpie roasted sesame dressing (see note)
- 20 gm fermented tofu (see note)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 3½ tsp mirin
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 3/4 tsp chilli powder
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 10 gm ginger (about 2cm), finely chopped
- 1Grill eggplant on a wire rack over a gas flame or on the barbecue over high heat, turning often, until skin is charred and flesh is soft (15-20 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool briefly (5 minutes). Cut eggplant in half, then scoop out flesh, discarding burnt skin. Coarsely chop flesh and arrange on a flat plate.
- 2For sesame-miso sauce, blend ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- 3For chilli oil, grind spices and 1½ tsp salt flakes to a fine powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and ginger, reduce heat to low and stir until fragrant and garlic just begins to colour (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, add ground spices and stir to warm spices through and cool the oil.
- 4Spread sesame-miso sauce over eggplant and drizzle warm spiced chilli oil all over to taste (you may only need half). Top with spring onion, sesame seeds, chilli flakes and coriander, and serve with Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce.
Lao Gan Ma chilli crisp sauce and fermented tofu are available from Asian supermarkets. Kewpie roasted sesame dressing is from select supermarkets.