Quick fried Asian eggplants are tossed with homemade sweet-tangy sambal (chili sauce) to make a brightly flavored side dish for your grilled or fried meat or fish.So simple. And so inexpensive with basic ingredients like garlic, ginger and chilis. And yet, the cooked dish has such deep and bold flavors. Really, never underestimate the benefits of sautéing as it brings out all the lovely flavors and aromas of spices.
- 3 eggplants the long and slim Asian variety which is sweet and not bitter
- cooking oil for frying
Fry the eggplants
- Start heating enough cooking oil in a wok or fryer to reach a depth of at least two inches.
- Cut the eggplants vertically into halves, then cut each half horizontally into two.
- When oil is hot, flash fry the eggplants (see What is flash frying?).
- Drain the eggplants on a rack and set aside.
- Pour off the oil from the pan leaving only about two tablespoonfuls.
Make the sambal
- With a mortar and pestle (or in a blender or food processor), grind the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilis and fish sauce until no large bits remain. (If using a blender or food processor and machine won’t run properly, add a few tablespoonfuls of water to help it along.)
- Reheat the oil in the pan.
- Over medium heat, sauté the sambal (medium heat for sauteeing, always) until the color deepens and the paste separates from the oil. This takes about ten minutes so be patient. You have to stir once in a while just so the sambal does burn especially along the edges.
- Drizzle in the lime juice. Taste the sambal. Adjust the seasonings, if needed, adding more fish sauce or sugar, or both.
Finish the dish
- Add the eggplants back to the wok or frying pan. Toss gently to coat each piece of eggplant with the spices. Cook just until the eggplants are heated through.
- Optionally, garnish the sambal eggplants with sliced scallions before serving.
Updated from a recipe originally published in July 12, 2012.