New name, good old taste from egg­plants

The Press - Zest - - Zest - By Kate Fraser

GRAF­FITI EGG­PLANT

It’s a bit of a stretch to call white mark­ings ‘‘graf­fiti’’ but pos­si­bly the mar­ket­ing men and mes­dames at veg­etable head­quar­ters thought it a sex­ier de­scrip­tion than ‘‘stripy egg­plant’’.

The dif­fer­ences be­tween every­day pur­ple egg­plants and this va­ri­ety are faint but nev­er­the­less dis­cernible. Its flavour is milder, the cooked flesh has a silken almost vel­vety tex­ture and there is no bit­ter­ness in even a half-cooked slice.

Back in the day, when any new food came along there was a ten­dency to give the re­sul­tant dish an aris­to­cratic ti­tle – as in a la king, or queen, or worse, com­par­ing it to another rarely en­coun­tered food.

Aubergine caviar, for in­stance, is a hum­mus-type spread and is as far from caviar as can be imag­ined – not fishy, not rare, and def­i­nitely not ex­pen­sive. I’m sure the first din­ner party host­ess to pass this ‘‘caviar’’ around was the clas­sic 1960s doll, all kit­ten heels, full skirts and bee­hive hair. Well, if the ‘‘look’’ can come back, so can the dish du jour.

EGG­PLANT CAVIAR

Oregano is a good herb match with egg­plants, but in this dish, dried, pow­dered or freeze-dried oregano is bet­ter than adding chopped fresh leaves. Serve with sand­wich sliced white bread cut into tri­an­gles (melba toasts) and oven-baked or toasted pita breads. 2–3 graf­fiti egg­plants (about 750g) 1 ta­ble­spoon le­mon juice 80ml fruity olive oil 11⁄ tea­spoons sherry vine­gar (can sub­sti­tute red wine vine­gar) Gen­er­ous pinch of dried oregano (I use freeze dried Fresh As) 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped Gar­nish:

tea­spoon pep­per oil or chilli oil – or a dash of Tabasco A gen­er­ous hand­ful of co­rian­der leaves and roots, finely chopped

Heat oven to 190C. Put the untrimmed egg­plants on bak­ing tray and cook for an hour – or un­til the skins are shriv­elled. Put in a plas­tic bag un­til cool – the skin will peel off eas­ily. Place the fleshy sausages onto a clean Chux cloth, roll up and squeeze out any liq­uid. Put the flesh in a food pro­ces­sor along with the le­mon juice

and, with the ma­chine run­ning, pour the olive oil down the food chute. Stop. Add the vine­gar, dried herb, and garlic. Whiz again un­til you have a thick puree. Taste and add salt to pref­er­ence. Tip into a bowl, cover and re­frig­er­ate for up to 24 hours – eight at least. Serve in a shal­low bowl – slish-slosh the flavoured oil over, then sprin­kle with the co­rian­der. Serve with baked bread around the bowl.

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