As you may or may not know, Jennee and I have spent the last three weeks with our two boys, Seba and Obi, travelling around the Mid-North of Vietnam and Laos – get a bit of culture and a whole heap of good food into us, yeah?
Well, now we’re back and I feel I should semi-apologise for the talk of these countries that will ensue on this blog over the next while… but not really…
While we were travelling I wrote some stuff down in a small brown writing book that had off white pages and faint black lines to keep my writing neat. How clever of the journal making people. I carried my writing book and a black pen with me in a backpack. I wrote words about the things I saw, heard, touched, smelled and more importantly, ate.
It was an interesting experience to be doing the old pen on paper thing again full time for three weeks. Interesting and good. Really good. Although from time to time I ended up feeling like a student who was completing his away-from-school-journal that his nasty assed parents were making him write about his experience because he was missing school… a lot like what we did to our children, except we got work sheets from the school as well *insert absolutely sinister, deriving way to much pleasure from the children’s suffering, parent laugh here*.
As it seems like it may take me a day or two to properly decipher and amalgamate said journal, I shall get straight into the cooking side of things. The last few weeks have been easily the longest time I have spent out of the kitchen in the last 10-15 years purely because… well… let’s face it, there was soooo much really fucking good food, getting cooked on every street corner in Vietnam, all being sold at what can only be described as ridiculously low prices, like, eat some cracking food and get a beer for the same price as a coffee is going to be in Australia, that there was no way I was going to be cooking on this trip. No effing way.
Now is time for me to return to my rightful place at the stove and off load some of the pressure that has been building in my brain due to the sensory overload that was Vietnam and Laos.
This is an attempt (the first of many I am sure) at the reincarnation of a dish we ate at Morning Glory Restaurant (don’t worry, there’s a post all of its own coming for this little gem of a place… sexual innuendo included) in Hoi An. It was the tastiest little smoky eggplant number and, if you love the tasty of smoky charred eggplant as I do, then you will love this dish. Unless you don’t like pork, in which case you will not like this dish at all. You should leave the pork out. Yes, for those of you amongst us who are of the predisposition that does not for what ever reason believe in the consumption of pork, we here at foodisthebestshitever recommend you omit the pork from this dish.
Also, I have added a little rice to the pork mince in the recipe, which the more astute amongst you may notice is not in the pics. This is because as I was winging this recipe I neglected to look at the photos I had taken of the original dish at Morning Glory and realised later that the OG dish did indeed appear to have a little rice mixed through the pork mince. This little number was damn tasty but I think it was just missing the rice to help the pork stick together a little. Anyway, this shit is fully easy, tasty, good. Get on it!
SMOKY EGGPLANT with PORK MINCE (serves 4 with sides)
500g pork mince
3 medium eggplant
1 large or 2 small onions, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon castor sugar
½ teaspoon ground pepper, black is what they use in ‘nam
A splash of stock or water
1 cup of cooked rice (you can use the stuff you’re going to serve it with)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Crisp eshallots* and sliced green chilli to garnish
Stir fried vegetables with garlic and steamed rice to serve
• Grill the eggplant on an open flame as you would for a babaganoush or something similar, except don’t quite cook it all the way through as you will finish the cooking process in the pan. Peel and cut into thumb-sized pieces
• Lay the eggplant pieces in a pan and set aside while you get the pork ready
• Heat oil and cook onions over med-high heat for two minutes or until starting to brown. Add fish sauce and garlic (I feel a knob of ginger, finely julienned, would also be a great addition right now) and cook out for another minute. Set aside
• In same pan stir fry pork mince over high heat until cooked. Season with black pepper. Stir through onion mix including all of the oil, and also stir through one cup of cooked rice… I hope you have some rice cooking**…
• Now to get it all together
• Dress eggplant with soy sauce, sugar and a splash of stock/water and the spoon pork mix over the top
• Cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until eggplant is fully cooked
• Check seasoning and add a little more soy sauce if necessary
• Garnish with a heap of chilli and crisp eshallots, and serve
*Crisp eshallots are available everywhere you look in Vietnam, or Asian grocery stores and probably even major supermarkets in whatever country you live in
**It is totally legit to use a rice cooker. I recommend using a rice cooker. Asians use rice cookers. In Asia it was not uncommon for us to wake to the sound of tens of thousands of rice cookers being simultaneously switched on around the city. True story. Get a rice cooker today.