I can recall this was served as a side to inihaw na tulingan (grilled bonito). It’s sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavour was the perfect accompaniment to such a strong flavoured fish.
Thank you very much Giao! I have not forgotten it since. I have modified the recipe slightly but the essence I kept intact.
I don’t think this is “authentic” Vietnamese. Giao’s recipe had to make do with what’s available. That is probably why the herbs which are normally found in Vietnamese cooking are noticeably absent. Mint and coriander were not easy to come by then. Adding them creates another level of flavour.
Ensaladang Talong ala Beancounter
4 -6 Lebanese eggplants (shallow fried or grilled)
1-2 spring onions chopped
1-2 cloves garlic chopped
1-2 siling labuyo sliced (bird’s eye chillies)
2 teaspoons palm sugar (white sugar is an OK substitute)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice of one lime (or two calamansi if you have them)
Mint and coriander (optional)
I actually prefer to grill my eggplants for the smoky flavour. You would not get this by frying. But because I needed to get dinner ready fairly quickly frying was the only way to go.
If you’re going to grill your eggplants make sure you keep them whole. Use low to medium fire/heat. Turn your eggplants regularly. The skin will blister and turn black but the insides will remain just right and moist. It’s better to do this outside the house if you can as the aroma lingers.
If you’re not so inclined frying could work just as well sans the smokiness. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise before frying. Fry skin side first. Turn over after a couple of minutes and cook until golden brown.
Whatever method you use you need to remove the skin.
Combine all the salad ingredients together (except for the eggplant). Adjust the taste to your liking. Add the skinned eggplant. Serve with your favourite fish.