Sambal Eggplant with Green Beans
Eggplant is also known as brinjal or aubergine. This is an authentic nyonya dish, traditional to Malaysian Chinese “Peranakan” in Penang. Like many cooks at home, I have my own interpretation on how I cooked my Nyonya “sambal eggplant”. “Sambal” comes from a Malay word meaning chilli paste. It is spoken and pronounced slightly different in my colloquial Penang Hokkien as “sam-bai”.
Some people wouldn’t eat eggplant describing it as mushy and gooey. If it is done correctly, it is a pleasant experience. The flesh should not be mushy or gooey. The flesh should have a silky soft texture and skin should be slightly chewy and cooked in a thick gravy sauce.
The 2 most important ingredients in making sambal eggplant is the “toasted belachan”, a Malaysian shrimp paste, and the Chinese’s dried shrimps. In this recipe, I will show you how I toast my belachan at home.
Make the sambal chilli paste
Prepare the other ingredients
Fry the dried shrimps and sambal chilli paste
Add the eggplants and then green beans
Remove and plate
How to make
Make the sambal paste. Roughly chop the onions, garlic, red chilies. Put in a blender with a teaspoon of toasted belachan. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
Wash and cut the green beans into halves. In a pot of hot boiling water with a bit of salt added, toss in the green beans to blanch for 1 minute or less. Remove and rinse in cold tap water until beans have cooled down. Set aside.
Wash and cut the eggplants, first into halves then lengthwise. Place in a bowl of salted water. Set aside until ready to use.
Wash and rinse the dried shrimps a few times until water is almost clear. Dry and then minced in a blender. Set aside.
In a hot pan or wok, add some cooking oil. Once oil is warm enough, toss in the minced shrimps and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Then add the sambal paste. Fry for another minute. If not enough oil, add a bit more oil. Be careful not to burn the paste.
Next add the eggplant with its skin face down. Add a bit of water and then cover with a lid to simmer and cook the eggplant for 1-2 minutes
Remove the lid and check. Add a bit more water if necessary to further cook the eggplant. Cover the lid again and continue to cook for another 1 minute.
Remove the lid. Next add the beans, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix through and cook for 1 minute.
Remove and plate the dish.
4 Chinese eggplants (also known as Asian eggplants, Japanese eggplants, Lebanese eggplants)
optional: a bunch of green beans (roughly 10-15)
1/2 red onion (medium to large size)
2 long red chilies
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of dried shrimps
1 teaspoon toasted belachan
salt and sugar to taste (for sugar, it is best to use either palm sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar)