Steamed to a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, then seasoned with a pungent chili-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 the steaming method: Aubergine salad with garlic dressing.
Steam the aubergine
Aubergine (Eggplant) 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.
Tear it with your hands
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 absorb 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)?
Season with a garlic dressing
As I mentioned in my post Stir-fried aubergine in plum sauce, garlic is almost indispensable in aubergine dishes. The use of fresh chili 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 flavor. Then add black rice vinegar, soy sauce, etc. to the paste. Allow them to infuse for a few minutes before using it.
Add some flavored oil
Typically, Chinese salad dishes call for pure sesame seed oil because of its aromatic, nutty taste. For my aubergine salad, I sometimes use homemade scallion oil instead. It tastes wonderful and is very versatile indeed. Why not make some yourself if you fancy the fragrance of onion?
Aubergine salad with garlic dressing (凉拌茄子)
- Cut aubergine into long, chunky strips. Place them into a steamer filled with hot water. Cook for about 8 minutes until very soft.
- Place cooked aubergine in a colander then press with a fork to squeeze out any excess water. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by mixing all the remaining ingredients. Leave to infuse.
- When the aubergine is completely cool, tear it into long, narrow pieces. Place on a serving plate. Pour the dressing over.
Fancy more healthy salad dishes? Try these recipes on my blog!
- Xinjiang tiger salad (老虎菜)
- Spinach salad with ginger dressing (姜汁菠菜毛豆)
- Cucumber salad with easy Chinese dressing (拌黄瓜)