Taiwanese Eggplant Salad
I have a love affair with Taipei. I go there once a year and stay for a few weeks to work, live and play. This Taiwanese eggplant salad (涼拌茄子) is a popular Taiwan dish I grew to love there. In Chinese, this type of dish is called ‘liang ban cai’ (涼拌菜), which literally translates as a cold side dish. You choose from an assortment of cold plates such as this eggplant salad at Taiwanese eateries, particularly the beef noodles joints, to accompany your main course. I prefer the home-cooked version, because it always tastes fresh, the colour is so vibrant and you can tweak the taste to your liking. Best of all, this is a super fast (15 minutes flat) recipe to pull off.
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This is the quick sauce I used to drizzle over the cooked eggplants. It consists of garlic, chilli, coriander, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger juice. It is no-cook and if you are really busy, you can prepare the sauce the night before (but I would only add in the coriander when ready to serve). Salty and spicy, the spongy eggplants will absorb every drop of the savoury sauce. I always make two versions of the sauce, one with coriander for her (me) and the other one with spring onions for him who can’t tolerate coriander.
Taiwanese eggplants are longish and thin, which makes them easy to cut to uniform logs. Pictured above are Taiwanese eggplants I saw at Taipei’s Beitou morning market (北投市場). I actually tried making this recipe at my Taipei apartment last year, but I didn’t have the right tools (stove was broken and there was no microwave). But how apt now that I saw Taiwanese eggplants at Mahota Market in Singapore. I am really happy (for sentimental reasons) that I finally featured this favourite Taiwan cold dish of mine on the blog, using Taiwanese eggplants no less.
I used the microwave to cook the eggplants to ‘lock in’ their beautiful purple colour. Check out this tutorial (method 2) for detailed instructions. By using the microwave, I love that I freed up the stove area to cook other things. You can also used the boiling or steaming method in the tutorial to achieve similar results.