4 medium size eggplants
Salt, for sprinkling
Light olive oil, for cooking eggplant
80ml sesame oil
240ml soy sauce
120ml white wine vinegar
8 tablespoons soft brown sugar
1 large bunch green onions (shallots), roots trimmed
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 small red chillies (depending on how hot you like it), finely chopped
2 x 225g cans Marigold Braised Tofu
150g roasted pecans, very coarsely chopped
Cut the eggplants into 1cm thick slices. Layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling a little salt between each layer. Leave to drain for 20 minutes. Rinse under cool water and pat dry.
Heat a thin layer of light olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a single layer of eggplant slices, and cook until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining eggplant until none remains, topping up the cooking oil as necessary. (You can also grill or barbecue the eggplant.) When cool enough to handle, slice the eggplant into narrow strips and put them into a large bowl. Set aside.
Pour the sesame oil, soy sauce and vinegar into a medium size bowl. Add the brown sugar and whisk together until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
Finely slice the white and paler green parts of the shallots. Discard all but three of the dark green tops (they can be a little bitter so I don’t generally use them). Slice the 3 remaining tops on the diagonal into very fine strips. Reserve separately for garnishing.
Heat a little more oil (2-3 tablespoons) in the frying pan, or in a large wok, over high heat. Add the shallots, ginger, garlic and chillies and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the tofu, pat it dry and carefully cut into 2cm chunks. Gently mix these into the eggplant along with most of the roasted pecans.
Now pour the hot soy mixture into the eggplant bowl too and gently stir everything together. Pile into a warm serving bowl and garnish with the reserved shallots and remaining pecans.
Serve warm over rice or noodles (it’s also surprisingly good at room temperature). Serves 4.
(P.S. For those who like things hot, I occasionally scatter a bit more finely sliced chilli on top.)