About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, January 20, 2006
Eggplant Salad
I've been working on a new salad for a while now, made with eggplant (aubergine). It's kind of an unconstructed baba ganoush, that smoky, earthy middle eastern dip, pungent with cumin and garlic. But instead of baking the eggplant in the oven until it's collapsed, I've been cutting the eggplant into thick slices, rubbing with olive oil and cooking on a ridged grill, then cutting it into cubes and mixing with the dressing.Tried it out on my kids the other day.

"What do you think of it?"

"It's alright I suppose."

Damned with faint praise. Kind of knew that it wasn't quite right, but I couldn't put a finger on what was wrong. Until the other day. I was watching Kylie Kwong in Hong Kong ~ that has a nice ring to it ~ when she demonstrated a Chinese eggplant salad, where she peeled the eggplant, cut it into strips, salted it to draw out the bitter juices, which also had a softening effect, then steamed it until cooked. Kylie then made a Chinese style dressing which I'm ashamed to to be unable to tell you about, as I was in the middle of an epiphany. That was my answer, steaming.

The problem I had with eggplant was that if it was cooked too much, it would soften to a pulp, which I didn't want. Texture is important to this salad. When cooked on the cast iron grill pan, the eggplant was a touch undercooked. Steaming eliminated this problem and leaves a lovely silken texture without adding fried or grilled characters. Stronger flavours are coming later.

Eggplant Salad

2 plump eggplants, peeled and cut lengthways into thick slices
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped into small dice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup tahini paste
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper

Salt the eggplants in a colander for twenty minutes, rinse and pat dry. Cut into cubes or strips. Place on a plate in a steamer and steam for twenty minutes, until soft but not falling apart. When cool place in bowl with tomatoes and parsley. Mix all the other ingredients together. The lemon juice will thicken up the tahini considerably, thin with a little water, pour over salad and mix.
  posted at 12:30 pm


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