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Sambal Eggplant

This is a common way to prepare eggplant in Malaysia. In this recipe, from Bee Yinn Low, who runs, the eggplant soaks up the piquant flavors of sambal, "which reminds me of home," she says. I used Indian eggplant, which is a small round eggplant. I would not suggest this dish for the heat averse.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups


1 small eggplant, about 8 ounces

Salt, to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons dried shrimp*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons sambal, depending on your heat tolerance (recipe below)

3/4 teaspoon fish sauce*, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon sugar, or to taste

*Available from any Asian grocer

Sambal (Chili Paste)

Bee Yinn Low suggests using the easily available red Mexican chilies. This cooked sambal is a paste that can be used to flavor various dishes such as grilled fish, chicken or even boiled eggs (add paste to a hot wok and toss in whole boiled eggs).

Makes about 1 cup

20 dried chilis

10 fresh red, hot chilis

8 small shallots

4 garlic cloves

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Remove the stems from the dried chilies and shake out the seeds (if you like the heat, leave the seeds in.). Soak the chilies in warm water to soften. Drain well.

Cut the stems from the fresh chilies. Slice the chilies in half lengthwise and remove the seeds (if you like the heat, leave the seeds in). Slice the chilies thin.

Peel and coarsely chop the shallots and garlic.

Use a mortar and pestle to pound the chilies, shallots and garlic to a paste, or use a mini food processor to grind well.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot but not smoking. Stir-fry the paste for a few minutes, until you smell the heat from the sambal or the oil separates from the sambal. Remove from the heat and use, or refrigerate in a closed container for future use.

Rinse the eggplant and slice into 1/4-inch slices. Soak in saltwater to prevent turning brown. Separately, soak the shrimp in warm water to remove excess salt and soften them; drain and rinse. Drain the eggplant and pat dry.

Heat the oil in a wok until hot but not smoking. Add the shrimp and sambal and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the eggplant. Continue to stir-fry until the eggplant becomes soft, but not overly soft; don't let it fall apart. I added about a 1/4 cup of water to aid the cooking process here. It took about 10 minutes for the eggplants to soften.

Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir to combine.

Serve hot.

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