On Thursday evening, as we were scanning the contents of the fridge in preparation for the arrival of the girls the following night, Speedy said our weekend restaurant was about to open again. That’s how he describes the cooking and eating routine on weekends when the girls are home — we’re like a restaurant that’s open 24/7.
But Alex is staying in the city for the weekend and only Sam is at home with us. No brainer who’s going to get pampered with home cooked food. Since I didn’t need to prepare two sets of meals — vegetarian and omnivorous — I decided to limit the meat to the previous day’s leftover roast pork and cook vegetarian dishes to go with it. By the time I was done, I had made kebobs with mock chicken balls (soya based) and tomato wedges, an eggplant dish and garlic fried rice. To use the leftover roast pork, I cooked plain garlic fried rice first, set aside enough for Sam then I added the chopped roast pork to the remaining rice in the pan for Speedy and myself.
The kebobs were easy to make. We already knew that the mock chicken balls were bland and rather dry so I tossed them with oil, Himalayan black salt and pepper, then gave them ample time to soak everything up. I skewered them, interspersing them with tomato wedges, then brushed them very liberally with a mixture of tamarind paste, soy sauce and a bit of sugar. I put them under the broiler for 10 minutes and they were done. The mock chicken balls were no longer bland but they were still rather dry. Must try another technique next time.
The real star of today’s lunch was the eggplant dish. A vegan dish with very Asian flavors. The eggplants are flash fried then doused with a sauce made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and sugar. Toasted sesame seeds give the dish a nice finishing touch. Yes, there is a recipe for it.
But, first, read about flash frying to understand that you’re not going to ingest the amount of cooking oil in the ingredients list and to understand as well that properly fried food shouldn’t be greasy at all.
Flashed-fried eggplants with rice vinegar and soy sauce
- 2 cups cooking oil
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (it’s mild and sweetish)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger grated
- 3 large eggplants (preferably the Asian variety which are sweet with no trace of bitterness)
- sesame seeds toasted
Start heating the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. It’ll take time for it to reach smoking point so turn on the stove before doing everything else.
Stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and ginger until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to infuse.
Cut the eggplants in halves lengthwise then cut each half into slices about half an inch wide. I like to this on the bias (that means I cut diagonally) but it’s just a personal preference as the shape of the eggplant pieces won’t affect the flavors and textures of the dish.
When the oil is starting to smoke, flash fry the eggplants. Again, refer to the post on flash frying. The frying time should last for no more than two minutes if the oil has reached the correct temperature.
Use a kitchen spider to scoop out the eggplants, tapping the spider on the side of the wok to let as much of the oil drip off.
Place the cooked eggplants in a shallow bowl. Pour the prepared sauce over them. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve at once.
Thanks, Sam, for taking the photos.