I never once had eggplant growing up – as a girl from a small country town never really had the opportunity. I’m sure my mother never had it growing up, so she would never have cooked with it at home. In fact, I’m not even sure our supermarket had such a vegetable. We were a strictly meat-and-three-veg town, by gum, and the most exotic anybody got in their home kitchens was chow mein.
Oh and that tuna-boiled egg-curry powder concoction with th fancy name of “Indienne” which I’m sure nobody but my mother ever made in the history of the world. I should like to leave that memory behind (sorry mum).
So, back to eggplant. I cannot ever remember the first time I tried it, but I remember thinking it always just looked so weird. Like it couldn’t possibly taste good. And didn’t you have to salt it for like, half an hour before you even used it? Hm.
Well, try it I must have, because I’m hooked. And I cook a whole eggplant and eat it all by myself like it ain’t no thang. I’ve baked it in coconut milk, palm sugar, lime juice and chili, I’ve made eggplant parmigiana (which is hilarious as I’ve never enjoyed parmigiana in any other capacity before), I’ve oven-roasted it, I’ve made crumbed versions… but the easiest and the quickest is always just to fry it with some garlic and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. And sometimes, that’s all I want.
1 whole eggplant, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
Sprinkle of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave for half an hour then rinse and pat dry. Sometimes I don’t even bother…
2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Even better if you have a barbecue. Add the eggplant and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to brown.
3. Add a slug more olive oil, the garlic and the sambal oelek. Cook until eggplant is soft and browned, about 8 minutes.
4. Remove to a bowl, drizzle with balsamic, sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper to taste and toss.
5. Put on a plate. Add a little extra balsamic. And olive oil. And more balsamic. Not obsessed at all…..