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Southeast Asian Grilled Eggplant Salad

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Serves 4 to 6

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 112

This salad is a delicious way to show off the lovely slender shape of Asian eggplants, which readily absorb the ginger-soy dressing that’s spooned over the top.

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbs. minced shallot
  • 1 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1-3/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 to 2 Thai bird chiles, minced, or 1-1/2 to 2 serrano chiles, seeded, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1-1/4 lb. long, slender Asian eggplants, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 4 oz. baby lettuces (about 5-1/2 cups)
  • 10 to 12 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (preferably Thai basil)
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh mint leaves

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire.

In a small bowl, whisk 3 Tbs. of the peanut oil with the lime juice, 2 Tbs. of the shallot, the fish sauce, 3/4 tsp. of the sugar, and the chiles. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In another small bowl, combine 2 tsp. water with the ginger, soy sauce, the remaining 1 Tbs. shallot, and 1 tsp. sugar.

Arrange the eggplant halves on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides with the remaining 1 Tbs. peanut oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant, covered, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Combine the lettuces, tomatoes, basil, and mint in a large bowl. Rewhisk the lime dressing and toss just enough into the salad to lightly coat the greens. Season the salad to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to a platter and arrange the eggplant over the salad. Spoon the ginger mixture over the eggplant, and serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 120; Fat (g): fat g 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1.5; Protein (g): protein g 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 12; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 650; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 5;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is a delicious and, I suspect, very forgiving recipe. I mistakenly put all 1-3/4 tsp sugar into the dressing, which meant that I needed more sugar (I used 3/4 tsp) for the eggplant dressing. I'm not much on sweeteners and I didn't think this was overdone. Of necessity I mixed greens (some romaine thrown in) and it was fine. The basil and mint added a nice lilt to the greens: in the given proportions they made for a pleasant surprise, but much more would have been overpowering. The salad dressing tastes like a great stand-alone dressing for any salad, and I plan to add it to my repertoire. The eggplant was lovely. Warning: if, like me, you can't find enough of the slender Asian eggplant and have to substitute some of the baby round eggplants more common to Middle Eastern cookery, peel them. The slender eggplants didn't need peeling; the fatter eggplants' peels turned bitter from cooking.

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