Growing your own fruit and vegetables in a garden is a wonderful experience, as it allows you to enjoy fresh produce at its seasonal best. There is nothing quite like eating a tree ripened piece of fruit or freshly prepared vegetable/s harvested only moments prior to cooking.
The only downside to growing your own produce is that we sometimes get tired of eating the same items, prepared the same way again and again. At this time of year … late Summer, the eggplants in the garden are going berserk – I tend to use them for making Italian eggplant fritters, eggplant lasagne or parmigiana as well as for pickling but not this week … Adam demanded something different.
Here is a simple dish I often create as an entrée for vegetarian or vegan guests staying on the farm during summer which can be found in Chinese, Korean and Japanese Cuisines. They all involve the same basic cooking method and all that is changed is the marinating/cooking sauce.
Chinese Char Sui Sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ teaspoon 5 spice powder
Korean Banchan Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic (finely minced)
1 teaspoon chili flakes (preferably Korean chili flakes – Gochugaru)
pinch of ground black pepper
Japanese Dengaku Sauce
4 tablespoons of miso paste
4 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine or sweet sherry)
It involves cutting the eggplant/aubergine fruit in halves, wedges or slices (depends on the type and size of the eggplant used. Large European eggplant fruit should be cut into slices or rounds approximately 1½ – 2 cm thick, medium size Middle Eastern fruit can be cut into wedges and small Asian eggplants can be cut lengthways down the middle.
1. Heat a heavy based pan and place 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and swirl it around to cover the base.
2. Place eggplant in a single layer onto the base surface and cook for 3 to 4 minutes before turning it over and cooking the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Remove par cooked eggplant from pan and place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
4. Repeat cooking process for any remaining eggplant slices, wedges or halves, until they have all been cooked.
5. Mix the marinade/sauce ingredients and pour over the eggplant pieces.
6. Place under a grill and cook for a further 4 to 6 minutes depending on thickness of eggplant.
7. When cooked, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/or thinly sliced spring onion and serve with steamed rice or a green salad.
Extremely simple to make, very tasty and full of nutrition – please give it a try.
In the Chinese version it is best that you allow the fried eggplant pieces to sit in the char sui sauce for 30 to 60 minutes before grilling.
In the Japanese version, it is preferable to use eggplant halves and to cut a crisscross patten into the fleshy surface.