8 Aug 2018 |
Big Salads by Kat Mead
Aubergine with Crispy Seaweed & Chilli Eggs (V)
This recipe is an explosion of flavour and, once you realise just how easy it is, it will make you question whether you need to order a Chinese takeaway ever again. Aubergines are so versatile and this creates a dish so incredibly moreish that you’ll be making it time and time again.
250g (9oz) spring greens, thick stems removed and leaves shredded vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 tsp sea salt, crushed
1 tsp granulated sugar
750g (1lb 10oz) aubergine (eggplant), cut into 2.5-cm (1-in) chunks
2 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp sesame oil, plus 1 tsp for the eggs
3cm (1in) ginger, peeled and finely grated (minced)
5 garlic cloves, finely grated (minced)
200ml (7fl oz/generous ¾ cup) black bean sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) water
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp chilli flakes (crushed chilli)
First you need to turn the shredded greens into crispy seaweed. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the greens and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water. Shake vigorously to remove as much water as possible before laying out on a clean tea towel. Place a second tea towel on top and pat the greens dry.
Heat the vegetable oil in either a deep fat fryer or a large, deep saucepan that has a lid (fill the pan just under halfway). A thermometer is handy here as you want to get the temperature up to 180°C/350°F.
Line a baking sheet with paper towel. Put the salt and sugar into a small bowl and mix.
Check the greens are as dry as possible – the oil will spit anyway but you can minimise it. Holding the lid to the pan in one hand, use your other hand to take a handful of the greens and quickly but carefully drop them into the oil, then immediately put the lid on, covering 90% of the saucepan (so the steam created has somewhere to escape). Leave it on until the oil stops popping and spitting after around 10 seconds. Continue to fry until the greens are crisp – about 30 seconds. Lift them out carefully onto the prepared baking sheet using a slotted spoon and sprinkle over some of the salt and sugar mix. Repeat until all the greens are cooked.
Reduce the heat under the oil while you dust the aubergine chunks with the rice flour. Line another baking sheet with paper towel. Bring the oil back to 180°C/350°F. Cook the aubergine in batches until it is a lovely golden brown – roughly 2–3 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared baking sheet to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until you have cooked all the aubergine.
Heat a wok with the sesame oil over a medium–high heat, add the ginger and garlic and cook, keeping it moving so nothing catches and burns, for 30 seconds. Add the black bean sauce, soy sauce, palm sugar, rice wine vinegar and water. Give it all a little stir and bring it up to the boil before reducing to a simmer and adding the deep-fried aubergine.
Stir gently until the aubergine is coated with the sauce, then cook for around 20 minutes, stirring regularly. By this time, the aubergine should have softened and be coated in a thick, sticky, shiny sauce.The aubergine will be very tender but try not to break it up too much when you stir. Then turn the heat down to as low as you can to just keep it warm, and heat a frying pan (skillet) on a high heat with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
Crack in the four eggs and sprinkle the yolks with a few chilli flakes. Once the eggs are crispy round the edges and the yolks cooked to your liking, turn off the heat.
Spoon the aubergine onto a large plate and top with the four fried eggs.
Sprinkle over the crispy seaweed and serve immediately.
Photography by Catherine Frawley