Do you like eating eggplant? also known as brinjal or aubergine. I’ve known people who wouldn’t eat it after an unpleasant experience eating the first time. I have heard people saying that it is too oily and unpalatable or describe it as mushy, gooey food almost too yucky to eat!
Well, if you are one of them who doesn’t like to eat eggplant I hope I can change your mind with this simple and easy recipe that you can make in your own home. It is neither mushy nor gooey if you cook it right, and it doesn’t have to be too oily to cook the eggplant. I will show you how on my YouTube video.
This is an authentic nyonya dish, traditional to Malaysian Chinese “peranakan” in Penang. Like many cooks at home, I have my own interpretation on how I cooked my nyonya “sambal eggplant”. In case you didn’t know, “sambal” is a Malay word, also spoken and pronounced slightly different in colloquial Penang hokkien as “sam-bai”, it means chili paste or sauce making use of fresh chillies and other ingredients.
The 2 most important ingredients in making a sambal eggplant is the “toasted belachan” which is a Malaysian shrimp paste, and the Chinese’s dried shrimps. If you live in an apartment like me, you can toast the belachan either in an oven or on the stovetop. My preference is the stovetop, so it doesn’t stink my oven for days! I have done a video on how to toast the belachan for a curry dish.
How to make an authentic nyonya sambal eggplant
- 4 Chinese eggplants (also known as Asian eggplants, Japanese eggplants, Lebanese eggplants)
- optional: a bunch of green beans (roughly 10-15)
- 1/2 red onion (medium to large size)
- 2 long red chilies
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup of dried shrimps
- 1 teaspoon toasted belachan
- salt and sugar to taste (for sugar, it is best to use either palm sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar)
- Make the sambal paste. Roughly chop the onions, garlic, red chilies. Put in a blender with a teaspoon of toasted belachan. Blend until smooth. Set aside
- Wash and cut the green beans into halves. In a pot of hot boiling water with a bit of salt added, toss in the green beans to blanch for 1 minute or less. Remove and rinse in cold tap water until beans have cooled down. Set aside
- Wash and cut the eggplants, first into halves then lengthwise. Place in a bowl of salted water. Set aside until ready to use
- Wash and rinse the dried shrimps a few times until water is almost clear. Dry and then minced in a blender. Set aside
- In a hot pan or wok, add some cooking oil. Once oil is warm enough, toss in the minced shrimps and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Then add the sambal paste. Fry for another minute. If not enough oil, add a bit more oil. Be careful not to burn the paste
- Next add the eggplant with its skin face down. Add a bit of water and then cover with a lid to simmer and cook the eggplant for 1-2 minutes
- Remove the lid and check. Add a bit more water if necessary to further cook the eggplant. Cover the lid again and continue to cook for another 1 minute
- Remove the lid. Next add the beans, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix through and cook for 1 minute
- Remove and plate the dish