I have good news for all those who avoid aubergines due to their scary fat absorbing capacity: they are absolutely delicious steamed! Though any aubergine can be used, I find mini and so-called “Asian” varieties particularly fit for this method, so I am always thrilled to see them finally in my grocery shop or on farmers markets. Steamed aubergine is not new to me, but this summer I tried it seasoned Korean way and loved it. Easy, quick and addictive, this is a perfect cooling summer side dish!
I found this easy recipe in Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo, a collection of fantastic and easy Korean home recipes, which was a wonderful present from a particularly kind friend of mine. As always I have slightly changed the amounts of ingredients and have also added some rice vinegar to make this dish even more summery (I always crave vinegared side-dishes when it’s hot), so make sure you check the original recipe in this beautifully illustrated book.
If one day you’ve had enough of the Korean flavours, you might try steamed aubergines with a Sichuanese chilli sauce:
TIPS: You can serve these aubergines both cold and tepid, but I don’t advice serving them hot. (You can also prepare them in advance, but maybe several hours before…. they tend to lose taste and texture if kept for example 24 hours).
You will find the ingredients of this sauce in any Asian shop (or maybe even a “normal” supermarket). If you cannot buy Korean powdered chilli pepper, use any powdered chilli you have (adjust the heat level to your palate). In this case, the best solution, in my opinion, is to grind whole dried chilli peppers to a rough texture (not a complete powder), but even completely powdered chilli will be ok here.
Preparation: about 20 minutes
Ingredients (serves two as a side-dish):
4-5 small aubergines (by small I mean the small thin-skinned variety) or 1 medium Western aubergine
toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or more, if using low-sodium soy sauce)
2 long stems of spring onion, chopped
1-2 big crushed garlic clove(s)
1 heaped teaspoon Korean chilli flakes/powder or any other chilli flakes/powder
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Preheat water in a steamer, a rice -cooker with a steaming plate or in a pan (if you use a steaming basket).
Cut the small aubergines in two lengthwise, and then in two widthwise (removing the leaves and the stem of course). If you use a Western bigger variety, cut it in four lengthwise and then cut each piece in two.
Steam at high heat for about ten-fifteen minutes.
Serve cold or tepid with the sauce on top, sprinkled with sesame seeds.