Steamed to a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, then seasoned with a pungent chilli-garlic dressing, this Chinese aubergine salad is simple yet delectable.
I love versatile vegetables which can be prepared in various ways and still taste wonderful. Aubergine can definitely make it to my list. Chinese cooks stir fry it, deep fry it, braise it and steam it. Today I’d like to share a simple recipe using steaming method: Aubergine salad with garlic dressing.
Aubergine tastes best when it’s cooked to a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. To make aubergine salad, Chinese cooks steam it to achieve this effect. I usually cut the aubergine into chunky strips for steaming. I recommend that you keep the purple skin on since that’s where aubergine’s most valuable nutrient comes from.
When completely cool, I tear the aubergine into smaller pieces with my hands. I find that hand-torn pieces of aubergine look very natural and appetizing. They also tend to absorbs more dressing than regularly cut pieces. In fact, hand-tearing is a very popular technique used in Chinese cuisine. Have you heard of famous dishes like hand-torn chicken (手撕鸡), hand-torn cabbage (手撕包菜) and hand-torn noodles (面片)?
As I mentioned in the post on Stir-fried aubergine in plum sauce, garlic is almost indispensable in aubergine dishes. The use of fresh chilli also gives this aubergine salad an extra zing. Be generous with these two ingredients. If possible, use a mortar to crush them into a rough paste. This helps to release most of their pungent flavour. Then add black rice vinegar, soy sauce, etc. to the paste. Allow them to infuse for a few minutes before using.
Typically, Chinese salad dishes call for pure sesame seed oil because of its aromatic, nutty taste. In my aubergine salad, I sometimes use homemade spring onion oil instead. It tastes wonderful and is very versatile indeed. Why not make some yourself if you fancy the fragrance of onion (Please click HERE to find out how to make and use this Chinese condiment)?
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