I was lucky enough to be gifted a tub of this delicious homemade sambal from Caecilia. A good sambal is a lot of work and with a tub sitting ready in the fridge, all I had to do was fry up the vegetable, dump the sambal in and a dish is made. Perfect for days when you've got to scuttle out of the house quickly or when you've just returned home from a long day. If you want her sambal recipe, which is redolent of the intense umami note from belachan (Fermented shrimp paste) and interestingly contains tomatoes, click here. Or just use any good quality store-bought sambal or ones you have ready at your disposal - whatever's most convenient for you.
So, the key for eggplant is high heat and sufficient oil. You will know when they're done cause you'll smell it. I like my eggplant cooked till caramelised, their exteriors torched till wrinkly, their interiors buttery smooth, the flesh yielding, gliding smoothly on your palette. Rich and lush like butter. Yet it's a vegetable.
This isn't a recipe, more so how I made this one day, quickly, in my kitchen. I enjoy hearing about how other people cook in their kitchens and hope that you'll enjoy what I share too.
Heat up a wok with a lot of oil - you're gonna be kinda deep frying the eggplant. Heat it up over medium-high. My weapon of choice here is the spider. That chinese contraption that's almost like a third arm and allows scaredy cats like me to maintain a safe distance from sputtering oil. (Gotta have nice skin. Call me vain.... as I'm guilty as charged!) Deep fry 3-4 baby eggplants that have been cut up into large chunks. I fry the chunks in batches to avoid over-crowding the wok. You'll know its done cause well, you'll smell it. The intense eggplant aroma will come out and they'll start to brown. Drain, reserve, set aside.
Remove the oil until there's only about a Tablespoon left in the wok. (I love how there's only one wok with this, it helps with the clean-up!) Add in about a heaped tablespoon and a half of sambal of choice. Give it a good mix around to loosen and heat up. Then add in your eggplant and cook until sauce and veg become one. This step should take no more than a minute or so! Et Voi la. I served with flakey sea salt scattered on top and a squirt of calamansi lime. Then again, your kitchen, your rules. Share what you make with me next time... :D