The tender, sweet, juicy flesh of grilled eggplant is the perfect vehicle for the tart, citrusy dressing, and it's made better by the gooey egg yolk. And the dried shrimp....yes, the dried shrimp, which are salty, chewy, umami shrimp flavour bombs!
This is definitely one of my favourite ways to prepare eggplant, and a dish I always enjoy in the summer!
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- 1 Chinese, Japanese or Thai long eggplant (about 250g)
- 1 Thai chili, or more to taste
- 1 Tbsp palm sugar, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 ½ Tbsp lime juice
- 1 small head shallots
- 3-4 sprigs cilantro, pick the leaves and finely chop the stems, keeping them separate
- 2 Tbsp dried shrimp
- 1 or 2 medium boiled eggs, preferably duck (8 minutes in rapidly boiling water)
Preheat the broiler to high.
Soak 1½ tablespoon dried shrimp in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain well, and pound in a mortar and pestle just until they’re smashed.
Grind the other ½ tablespoon of dried shrimp in a coffee grinder until fluffy.
Poke several holes in the eggplant with a knife, then place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil on the top rack, and once the top side is charred (~3 minutes), turn the eggplant to char the other sides. Once the eggplant is charred on all sides and the flesh is soft, remove from the broiler and let cool. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant on high heat, or if you have a gas stove, you char the eggplant directly in the flame.
While the eggplant cools, make the dressing. In a mortar and pestle, pound the chili until fine, then add the palm sugar and pound until it becomes a paste. Add fish sauce and lime juice, and swirl the pestle until the sugar is dissolved. Add the shallots, chopped cilantro stems, and the dried shrimp (both the fluffy and the smashed ones); stir to mix.
Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off, trying your best not to get the charred skin bits on the flesh. The skin should come off quite easily. Cut the eggplant in half horizontally, then into 2-inch pieces. Arrange the eggplant flesh on a serving plate, pour the dressing over the eggplant, top with cilantro leaves and serve with the boiled egg on the side. Serve with jasmine rice, enjoy!