Thai Eggplant Salad

Silky eggplants tossed in a flavorful Thai vinaigrette served with fragrant lemongrass, tart gooseberries, fresh herbs, and crunchy fried shallots.

How do I prevent the skin of the eggplant from turning brown during cooking? A common issue that arises when cooking eggplants, is that the skin browns when exposed to heat. To prevent the skin from browning, use a vinegar and water soak. I use 1/4 cup of white vinegar for every 4 cups of water. I cut my eggplant accordingly depending on the directions of the recipe and then soak the pieces for at least 15 minutes. Drain, discarding the vinegar bath. The vinegar functions by lowering the pH of the skin and prevents enzymatic browning without leaving any trace of it behind in terms of smell and taste.

What is lemongrass and how do I prepare it? Lemongrass is a herb that is most commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines found in soups, salads, marinated meat and rice dishes.It is very aromatic containing floral oils that resemble the fragrance of lemons and mint. It is available fresh, pre-grated, powdered, or frozen. If you have the option, choose fresh lemongrass by the bundle which has the most flavor. When buying your produce, choose firm stalks that are not discolored. The lemongrass has pale yellow-green stalks with rigid leaves and contains a tender bulbous core. The exterior is inedible and may be discarded.

Step 1. Using a sharp knife, trim off the ends of the lemongrass. Trim off approximately 4-5 inches of the hollow spiky top and the base. Discard.

Step 2. Take the center piece and begin to peel away the stiff leaves, unraveling and revealing a tender white core.

Step 3. Depending on the use of the recipe, julienne, mince, or pound with the back of a knife.

Thai Eggplant Salad

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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 11 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 2 graffiti eggplants
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 large shallots, trimmed, peeled, julienned
  • 3 cups neutral oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar or white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tbp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, trimmed, peeled, grated
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup cape gooseberries, halved
  • 1 lemongrass, trimmed, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Instructions
 

  • Eggplant | Pull the thorny leaves off from the eggplant and cut off the stem. With the flat side down, cut lengthwise in half, into quarters, and finally into bitesized pieces. Add vinegar into a bowl and soak for 15 minutes. Add the eggplants into a steamer with the skin side down. Steam for 5-6 minutes and immediately remove from the basket, plate and set aside.
  • Shallots | Set a pot over a stove on medium-high heat. Add oil and let it heat up until it reaches 350 F. Peel and julienne shallots. Then fry until golden brown, 5-6 mins. Set on a paper towel.
  • Dressing | Add sugar, fine sea salt, grated ginger, grated garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and rice vinegar into a bowl and mix.
  • Assemble | Add lemongrass, gooseberries, herbs, dressing, and fried shallots to the eggplants.

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