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Author Notes: Many (many!) years ago I went to visit my pal Eden in San Francisco. She took me to Chinatown and there we ate this dish as part of our huge (vegan) meal. The resulting texture is like an indian oil pickle. It was served at room temperature, soaking in its oily marinade.
I loved it and tried desperately to decipher the flavours as I ate. When I got back to England, I made a trip to a Soho supermarket and several attempts to recreate it. Here is the result. (Takes 8 to 24 hours to marinade.) —Mrs Currie
Serves 4 as a starter
- 1 Large aubergine (egg plant)
- 1/4 cup roasted sesame oil*
- 1 tablespoon chilli sauce/sambal
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- A splash of light soya sauce (enough to make a dressing consistency)
- A good pinch of ground WHITE pepper
- 1 handful chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
- Take your aubergine wedges and salt well all over. Set aside for 1/2 hour. Set up a steamer and bring it to a simmer on the stove.
- Meanwhile, make the marinade with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings - this should be a moderately hot, salty and very earthy dish.
- Rinse the salt from the aubergine wedges and layer them into your steamer. Steam for 15 minutes to achieve a very soft and giving texture.
- Remove the aubergine to a bowl and while still hot, pour over the marinade. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 8 hours to a day or more if you wish.
- The next day, bring to room temperature and sprinkle over the cilantro when you are ready to eat it. *If the roasted sesame oil is too strong for your palate, blend it to taste with another oil.