Easy peasy steamed eggplant
Eggplant, brinjal or aubergine. Whatever you call it, the taste is the same. When it’s cooked, it becomes a soft, almost mushy texture. My kids used to hate this and compared it to the jiggly, lubricious fat part of the char siew (roast pork) which they didn’t like.
As one grows older, your taste and preference for certain foods may change. And so it was with the eggplant, which went from a most hated vegetable (well, technically, it’s a fruit) to one that was sought after in my household. (They like jiggly char siew now, too!) I was happy too as eggplant lasts much longer than leafy green vegetables in the fridge. And, I discovered steaming with the microwave!
If you’re cooking more than two eggplants, then steaming this in a larger wok makes more sense. But if it’s just a small side dish for two people, it’s easy enough to steam this in the microwave. Arrange the eggplant in a steamer that’s microwave-friendly, pop it into the microwave at high power for about four to five minutes until it’s cooked. For me, it means fewer dishes to wash!
The ingredients for the sauce may seem complicated, but it’s really just a mash-up of the condiments found in my kitchen. The sauce recipe is very flexible – you may want to add other things like dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and/or fish sauce, or use gojuchang instead of miso, or omit it altogether. The taste I’m aiming for is sweet salty, with a just hint of sour, and the miso gives it that bit of umami.
To avoid the eggplant from turning brown after steaming, you can soak it for 3 minutes in diluted vinegar or salt water before steaming. But then, this would mean it’s a three-step dish; since it’s just us eating this at home and I’m lazy that way, I skipped this.
The whole idea is that you don’t have to heat up anything (you may choose to fry the garlic if you like, and cook the sauce over the stove if you prefer it sizzling hot over the eggplant) apart from steaming. Just mix the sauce and drizzle over the eggplant. Pretty up the dish with the toppings and voila! You’re done!
2 long Chinese eggplants (approx 400g)
1 tsp miso paste
2 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs black vinegar
1 tsp rice vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 tbs white sugar (or to taste)
1 tbs honey
1 tbs sesame oil
Dash of white pepper
3 cloves garlic cloves, minced
1cm fresh ginger, grated (optional)
2 tbs neutral oil (preferably sunflower oil) or water – this is to dilute the sauce if it’s too concentrated.
Toppings3 stalks of spring onion/scallion,
2 bird’s eye chilli (optional)
1 tbs toasted white sesame seeds
1. Cut off the top of the eggplant where the stem is. Then cut along the length of each eggplant into 4 equal parts of about 5cm long. Halve each segment, and then cut that into half again which means each segment would be in quarters. Place in a plate that’s suitable for steaming.
2. Fill a wok or whichever deep pot that you normally use for steaming, with about 5cm of water. When the water comes to a boil, place the plate of eggplant on a steamer stand, and then cover with the wok lid for about 7 to 10 minutes until the eggplant is just about cooked, but not so soft until its mushy.
3. Transfer the eggplant to the plate which you will be serving this in once it has cooled down and arrange nicely.
4. In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for the sauce together in a bowl and mix well.
5. Drizzle the sauce over the eggplant, sprinkle the topping over the whole dish, and it’s ready to serve.