V Thai-style Grilled Eggplant Salad
From: Asian Grilling by Su-Mei Yu; makes about 6 servings; I used a combination of eggplant and summer squash for this recipe. It was a big hit even with those not crazy about eggplant. Leftovers keep well and can be tossed with pasta. The fish sauce is easily found in the Asian sections of supermarkets. It is what gives Thai food its saltiness. Don't be afraid of how the dressing smells before you add the lime juice. The dressing ends up being a very nice balance of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy.
Dressing (makes 1/4 cup)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper (I used less and it was still spicy)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup vegetable oil (I used about 1/2 cup and it was enough)
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (I used less)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
6 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise (I used globe eggplants and zucchini and sliced them about 1/2 inch thick)
2 shallots, thinly sliced (can also use scallions)
10 mint leaves, torn and bruised
10 Thai basil leaves, torn and bruised
For the dressing: combine sugar, red pepper, salt, garlic, and fish sauce in a small saucepan and over medium heat. Heat until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and when cooled add lime juice and set aside.
For the salad: heat the grill. While grill is heating, heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and salt and cook until the garlic is golden—stir frequently to prevent burning. This only takes a couple of minutes. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon or fine meshed strainer and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Score the flesh of the eggplants and generously brush with the garlic oil. Place on grill over medium heat and turn frequently to prevent burning. Cook until slightly charred on the outside and soft on the inside, about 6-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, cut into bite-sized pieces. Put into a bowl and add the minced shallots. Toss lightly, add the dressing and mix well. Add the basil and mint and mix well. Garnish with the crispy garlic.