I have seen various references to ginger eggplant recipes but have been experimenting with my own version. As a lover of eggplant I’ve always savoured the opportunity in adding it to meals I prepare. In lunch situations I like to keep watery items to a bare minimum so that was one of the main reasons my version has diverted from tradition. Instead, it seems like the my method more closely resembles adobo: the frying step and the soy sauce component.
Various times in frying eggplant has made me a little wary of the amount of oil it can soak up – it laps up oil like a sponge! As impatient as I am to forgo a pre-salting stage I was keen on other methods and recycled the idea from another filipino dish – pre-roasting. Unlike par-boiling, it does not introduce more water and gives the eggplant a more smokey flavour. In addition with precooking it the eggplant becomes less ready to soak oil up but is still able to take in water-based flavours. The resulting ginger eggplant is cleaner and refreshing; less oily than leftover BBQ-treated eggplant at times.
I use the small, ‘sausage’ shaped varieties as this ensures that the sizing can be controlled.
- 3 20cm small eggplants
- Grated ginger to taste
- Soy sauce to taste
- 2-3 TB sake
- 1/2 medium onion, diced (optional)
- Small amount of sesame oil for frying
- First roast the eggplants: peel back the sepals of the washed and dried eggplant then place as-is in a 180 degree (Celcius) oven for 10-12 minutes
- Let the eggplant cool in the oven to steam, then peel the skin and trim off stem when they are at least cold enough to handle. Cut into bite-sized pieces
- Heat oil in frypan. Toss in onion if using and cook on medium-high until pearly and translucent
- Add eggplant to the pan to heat up then add ginger. When ginger is fragrant, add sake and soy sauce and turn the heat to high
- When the liquid has almost been soaked up/evaporated turn heat to medium/medium-high. Taste and adjust with more ginger/sake/soy sauce. Don't add too much liquid as this isn't supposed to be a 'soupy' dish!
- Cook until liquid is, or almost completely evaporated
Be wary of how much soy sauce is added - it can make the dish too salty.
A refreshing variant can be achieved with a little lime juice and rind. Just adding a touch of juice and finely diced rind stirred in right at the end will do - it complements the ginger rather well.
More commonly, you can add a spicy kick with chilli powder at the stage when you add soy sauce.
To make this a vegetarian's lament, fry up a small amount of mince of your choosing at the beginning of the 'stir-fry' stage in the same pan. This variation is particularly good to convert it from a side dish to a main dish (with rice of course!)
This dish suits mild flavours like plain white rice.