There will be many cakes and bakes coming your way here on Jo Blogs Jo Bakes for the next couple of months at least – there is much to celebrate coming up and a celebration demands a cake. You’ll have to come back to discover what these celebrations will be wont you? ;). In the meantime, I feel it’s my duty to offset all that delicious sugar, butter, flour and eggs with a super nutritious, quick and punchy flavour packed side dish to have with your steamed fish and rice.
Seeing as I’m unable to stop buying cook books (and foodie magazines!) I feel my penance (such that it is) must be to cook at least one dish from every one of my dirty-not-so-secret secret purchases as soon after smuggling them home as possible. This one comes your way via Olive magazine, my current favourite food mag.
It’s tweaked barely from a John Torode (of Master Chef fame) recipe and can I tell you, it ticks my every healthy meal food box! Big on taste, spicy, brightly coloured and above all else – less than 20 minutes of your time are required to get it from fridge to face. A crucial point for all trying to shed their fat suit (like I am!) as if I’ve got to chop, peel, mince, blend, Christ knows what else, I ain’t gonna wanna make it and will be tempted by the takeaway once again!
Now John instructs us to boil our aubergines (eggplants or Gonzo noses to me!) for a very short time before cooking with the rest of the ingredients. Presumably to soften them and maybe moisten them so they do not absorb as much oil. In yet another moment of madness I followed his directions against my gut instinct to griddle them, anointing first with a flick of oil. My gut was right – to my taste buds anyhoo. Although one might not necessarily associate charred, smokey eggplants with flavours from the orient immediately, the sauce is a mix of oyster and black bean which actually work beautifully with smoldering depth one gets with cooking them this way. But do do as your taste buds tell you, that’s what cooking is all about!
Now we have par-cooked eggplants, it’s a simple matter of tipping in some spring onions, chillies and coriander. Soften for a moment in a hot, hot pan. Pick a larger one than I did here as the eggplants are very soft and can get easily smushed if you don’t have space to introduce them gently to their spikey, vibrant if somewhat in your face pan mates!
Stir your black bean, oyster and fish sauces together then tip into the sizzling pan. Splash in some recently boiled water if you like it saucy. Meanwhile, I had popped some line caught cod fillets in my bamboo steamer with ginger, garlic and chillies tucked in amongst them to perfume the fish whilst some glutinous rice steamed away in my new rice cooker.
Plate up artfully and scatter with reserved spring onion, chillies and fresh grass green coriander (my most favourite fresh herb of all time). Eat whilst your halo twinkles above you, knowing there are around 100-150 calories per portion of this storecupboardy, throw together healthy dinner.
That halo may need some serious elbow grease to remove the tarnish when you see what sweet treats will be coming your way later this week ;)
- One medium-large eggplant cut into 1 by 4-5 inch wedges
- 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- Small bunch of spring onions sliced diagonally
- 1-2 red chillies sliced thinly
- Small bunch coriander chopped
- 2-4 tbsp black bean sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce nam pla
Either plunge your eggplants into boiling water, return to the boil for 5 mins then drain well OR brush with the oil and griddle until charred on all sides.
Add any remaining oil to a hot frying pan (bigger is better here - you need room to stir the veg without smushing it).
Add in your eggplant - if using the boiled version, cook for 5 minutes or so until well browned on both sides; if griddles, gently stir to coat in the oil and bring back up to heat.
Tip in most (like 3/4) of your spring onions, chillies and coriander and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Stir your sauces together then pour over the veg, cook only until heated through.
You may add a splash of boiled water if it goes dry looking or you want it saucier... ;)
Serve with the reserved spring onions, chillies and coriander scattered artfully over the humble, charred and smokey eggplant!
I like to serve with steamed fish and glutinous rice.
For the fish, I place the fillets in a bamboo steamer with slices of ginger, garlic and chillies to delicately perfume the steaming fish - lemongrass would be a fabulous addition/alternative too.
Adapted from John Torode for Olive Magazine, July 2012
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