Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It has a depth of flavor that rivals tomatoes but you have to work with it a bit to open it up and unlock that richness. This is a great dish for summer parties as a vegetable dip or it can be spread on bread as an hors d'oeuvre.
- 6 long, skinny eggplants
- 1 small yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1" section ginger
- 6" stalk lemongrass
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 5 shiso leaves
- 1/2 lime
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
vegetables, baguette, or flatbread for dipping and spreading
- Heat the oven on the broiler setting.
- Poke the eggplants several times with a fork just deep enough to pierce the skin.
- Place eggplant on a heavy baking sheet and broil for 20-30 minutes, rotating as needed until the skin is very dark and the flesh is completely soft.
- Place eggplant in a bowl and cover with a plate to allow them to steam.
- Meanwhile prepare the other vegetables. Peel and finely dice the onion. Peel the ginger (the best way is with the edge of a spoon) and finely dice. Whack the lemongrass with the blunt side of your knife up and down the stalk to soften the fibers, then finely dice that as well. Peel and finely dice the garlic.
- Dice all 4 of the tomatoes, but reserve one separately.
- Heat a saute pan over medium heat with the oil. First add the onions and cook until they are soft and fragrant. Continue by adding first the ginger, then the lemongrass, and finally the garlic. Pause between each addition to stir in the new vegetable and allow it to cook a few moments. You don't want these to brown so be careful with the temperature.
- Add 3 of the diced tomatoes and half of the fish sauce. Reduce the heat to low and let this simmer while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Peel the skin off the eggplant and discard the skin. Reserve any juices that came out in the bowl while the eggplant steamed. Puree the eggplant and juices until smooth.
- Roll up the shiso leaves and cut into thin shreds. Combine them with the remaining tomato, half of the fish sauce, and the juice of half a lime.
- When the vegetables on the stove have cooked down and are mostly dry combine them with the pureed eggplant and tomato/shiso mixture.
- Serve at room temperature with multigrain baguette, fresh raw vegetables, or flatbread.