Just when I thought that having a Turkish father meant that I’d tried aubergines in almost every way possible, along comes this brilliant Vietnamese Soy + Thai basil recipe from Uyen Luu. Steaming the aubergines before frying them means that they are incredibly soft and actually don’t absorb every drop of oil in the world – they’re light as a feather, and with this sauce make a superb accompaniment to whatever else you might be eating. Serves 4 as a side dish, or I could totally eat half of this bowlful with a heap of steamed rice.
2 medium sized aubergines
30g unsalted butter
2 shallots (or 1 banana shallot)
Pinch +/- chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, sliced
Small handful Thai basil leaves
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp chilli sauce of choice
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tsp maple syrup
- If you have a bamboo steamer, now’s the time to find it, if not, you can use a metal colander over a pan of boiling water with a lid on top. Set your steamer up (mine fits nicely in a large deep sided frying pan), and put some boiling water in the pan but don’t let it touch the cooking surface of the steamer.
- Slice the aubergines into 2 cm rounds and put them in the steamer – make sure there’s space for the steam to circulate around them. Steam for 5 minutes, then remove to a plate.
- While that’s happening mix together the sauce ingredients.
- Heat a wok or frying pan over a really high heat, add the butter and fry the shallots, chilli flakes and garlic for a minute, before adding in the aubergines – space them out and leave them to brown for a minute or so before flipping to cook the other side.
- Pour in the sauce, most of the spring onion and rip in two thirds of the basil and fry until it’s all lovely and hot.
- Serve with rest of the spring onion and basil, and dive in.