the hinata diaries

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Best eggplant ever!

Had lunch at mezza9 yesterday and tried their lobster lunch set - half boston lobster on crispy noodles, with seafood soup, steamed eggplant with preserved vegetables and honeydew mango pudding. The set was very enjoyable and the lobster portion was incredibly generous, but what really stood out was the eggplant. So much so that I thought about it all afternoon and when Philippe decided we should have dinner at home, I immediately jumped at the chance to recreate it. Proud to say, my attempt was a success! Here's a pic:

Steamed Eggplant with Preserved Vegetables (inspired by mezza9)

  • Small Japanese eggplant (nasu), quartered lengthwise
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Chinese preserved veggies, like chye sim or mustard leaves
  • Soba noodle dipping sauce (tempura sauce works too)

"Grill" eggplant slices by leaving them, cut sides down, on a heated frying pan over low/medium heat (this is my lazy way to grill/toast almost everything), until brown, soft and slightly shrivelled. If you like your eggplant softer, you can toss in some water as well and cover with a lid (my lazy version of steaming). Toss in the garlic and the end and gently mix around (not even stir fry) until garlic is brown and smells good. Note: the mezza9 version actually used a raw minced garlic paste as a topping - I don't really like the taste of raw garlic... up to you!

Pour a little bit of soba noodle dipping sauce into your serving bowl (I used about 2 tbsp for 2 baby eggplants) and place eggplant and garlic on top. Top with preserved veggies. Voila, quick and simple, and really the yummiest way of serving eggplant I've ever experienced!

Made a couple of other dishes to go with the meal as well. Emphasis was to keep the portions small and light - while I grew up having huge dinners, Philippe's not a big dinner eater, so a tapas style meal is really the best compromise: I get the variety I like but Philippe doesn't feel completely ill after.

First off, decided to make a Shanghainese style cold noodle dish:

Shanghai-style cold noodles

  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter (crunchy is best!)
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Oil (chilli oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, whatever you prefer)

Prepare and drain pasta, toss in oil, chill to desired temperature. Mix with generous amounts of peanut butter and a splash of teriyaki sauce.

I used olive oil cos I didn't have chilli oil at hand. Regretted it at first as the olive oil flavour does compete with the peanut butter, but started to appreciate it about halfway through as it kept the noodles from being too cloyingly sweet. If you're a traditionalist, stick to chilli oil; otherwise, whatever is handy works too. The peanut butter btw was difficult to mix in elegantly and I ended up using my hands. Good fun!

And then, two other sides: cold tofu with minced pork and cucumber slices to add some crunch.

The tofu and pork was really as easy as it gets - it's usually my default food when the fridge is empty and/or I'm too lazy to cook (which is very often). Tofu, minced pork, soya sauce and you're done. As for the cucumber slices, I left the slices to stand for a little while (30 mins in this case) with salt and sugar. That drains away some of the excess water so you get the nice curled up yet crunchy slices.

So there you go, a simple and quick dinner that still managed to look like haute modern Chinese cuisine :) A toast to all shortcut meals!


  • nice blog but please try to do something with the pictures. No offence but is the flash on?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12:28 PM  

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