Smoky aubergine salad with runny duck eggs

SERVES 2

Food and Travel (UK) - - Recipes -

4 Thai purple aubergines or reg­u­lar aubergines

2 duck eggs splash olive oil

10g jas­mine rice

10g mint, torn

10g co­rian­der, torn

10g Thai shallots or ba­nana shallots, thinly sliced

For the pickle

2tbsp caster sugar

½tsp ta­ble salt

50ml dis­tilled white vine­gar ¼ cu­cum­ber, thinly sliced

For the dress­ing

juice 5 limes juice 1 man­darin (or cle­men­tine) 3tsp fish sauce or soy sauce ½tsp chilli pow­der

50g caster sugar

3tsp tamarind wa­ter

To serve

steamed jas­mine rice

1tsp toasted se­same seeds

pes­tle and mor­tar or spice grinder

Light the bar­be­cue and place the whole aubergines di­rectly on the hot coals, or near the hottest part of the grill if you’re us­ing a gas bar­be­cue. Turn them over fre­quently, en­sur­ing the heat from the coals is dis­trib­uted evenly. The aubergines are ready when soft to the touch, with charred, blis­tered skins. When cool enough to han­dle, peel off

the skin. (If you're not us­ing a bar­be­cue, crank the oven right up to full blast and bake the aubergines un­til the skins are charred and the flesh soft – this takes 20-25 min­utes).

Mean­while, cook the duck eggs for 6-7 min­utes on a rolling boil in salted wa­ter, then trans­fer to a bowl of ice-cold wa­ter with a splash of olive oil. If you peel the eggs in the wa­ter, the oil gets be­tween the shell and flesh, mak­ing them eas­ier to peel.

Put the rice in a dry fry­ing pan and lightly toast on a medium heat, shak­ing the pan un­til golden brown. Pound the rice into a pow­der in a pes­tle and mor­tar, or use a spice grinder. Be sure to grind it to a pow­der; the salad will be too crunchy if grains are too coarse. Set aside un­til serv­ing.

Next, make the pickle. In a medium pan, gen­tly heat the sugar, salt and vine­gar with

50ml cold wa­ter un­til the sugar has dis­solved. Keep stir­ring so the sugar dis­solves with­out heat­ing the wa­ter too much. Re­move from the heat, add the cu­cum­ber, then chill.

To make the dress­ing, mix the juices, fish sauce, chilli pow­der, sugar and tamarind wa­ter in a bowl. Ad­just the dress­ing to taste: it should be sweet, salty, sour and hot, with an edge to­wards salt and cit­rus. When you're happy with the flavour, add the aubergines, mint, co­rian­der, shallots and pick­led cu­cum­ber (strain any juices first) to the bowl. Gen­tly fold to­gether, leav­ing the aubergines whole.

Ar­range the aubergines on a serv­ing plate and place the duck eggs on top. Us­ing the tip of a knife, pierce a hole in the eggs and break them open with your fin­gers, re­leas­ing the runny yolks so they ooze into the salad.

Sprin­kle the salad with the rice and se­same seeds and add a tiny pinch of salt onto the runny egg yolks as a sur­prise burst of flavour. Serve with steamed jas­mine rice for an ex­tra fill.

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