Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Aubergine Sambal

How do I love aubergines? Let me count the ways. Grilled over the barbeque, curried, roasted till soft and caramelised like in Middle Eastern spreads, on pizza, baked in a Greek Moussaka and stir-fried in countless Asian dishes to just name, erm, a few. And the way which gets me everytime like a culinary Achilles Heel, is when aubergine is sauteed in sambal Malaysian style.

Aubergines, brinjals, eggplants. They seem to have many monikers and even more guises. Observe how our Malaysian variety are slender batons whilst the ones on British and Aussie shores appear ample and curvaceous like buxom bar maids in black. Head into Thailand, Vietnam and Laos and they become round tennis balls, fitting snugly into a cupped hand and striped with green and white.

All are equally lovely when teamed with a juicy sambal. Again I turn to an old friend, The Chinese Women's Association Cookbook for a recipe courtesy of YAM Tunku Shahariah bt. Almarhim Tuanku Abdul Rahman plus some minor modifications of my own.

This version of sambal uses taucu (fermented soya beans) and small dried shrimp as it's distinctive salty base. These create the umami in the sambal that marries so well with the absorbent fleshy vegetable.

It's that magical moment when deep purple skin turns glossy jet black...

500g (about 2) long aubergines/brinjals/eggplants
3 tbsp cooking oil
Salt & sugar to taste

(For the Sambal)
4 long red chillies 
5 shallots, peeled
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in warm water to soften
1 tbsp taucu (fermented soya beans)
4 tbsp cooking oil

1. Cut aubergines in half lengthwise, then half lengthwise again before cutting into shorter lengths. If you've got another shape aside from the leggy Malaysian beauties you're basically aiming for pieces of about 3 inches long and half an inch in thickness but of course it's down to personal preference. 
2. Heat oil and fry aubergines until brown. Remove and drain. For plumper aubergines, it might be useful to salt them first to draw out some water.
3. Combine sambal ingredients except oil and pound into a paste using a mortar and pestle or a blender/food processor. 
4. Heat oil over medium heat and fry sambal until fragrant. You'll get a sensational whiff of shrimp coming up. Add fried aubergines, salt and sugar to taste (I find I need just over half a tsp of sugar and a pinch of salt). Continue to stir fry for a few minutes till sugar has dissolved. 
5. Remove from heat, and serve hot with steamed white rice. 

The original recipe includes a few basil leaves. I've never tried that but would think it an interesting  addition. Next time!


Cinnamon and Truffle said...

I love aubergine sambal!! Seriously fab photos too.


Hungry Female said...

Hello there! Thank you:) I hope this brings back lots of happy SG eating times!

Sean said...

i like my eggplant best in yong tau foo :D

The Sudden Cook said...

Your photos are x-cellent! It already makes me wanna try this recipe out! I've just glanced at d post cause I have to get back to work but I will be back!

Hungry Female said...

Hi! I'm all about easy and effective recipes and again this one doesn't disappoint! Defo try it out and let me know what you think:)

Ciki said...

the best way to do it.. with a pestle and mortar! Love aubergine in all forms.. fried with sambal, even better!

Hungry Female said...

Hi Cumi! High five to aubergine sambal!

Ute@HungryinLondon said...

Never had aubergine sambal, how delicious does this look! the photos are so good, you can almost taste it.

Hungry Female said...

Hi Ute:) Then you need to try the recipe! You can use the sambal paste for lots of other things too.