Eggplant is so underused in our kitchen. It’s not because I don’t like them, but most of the time, I’m not sure what to do with them. I have posted several recipes with eggplants before and they were wonderful. So, I decided to dress the eggplant almost in the same manner the way I did the Tomato and Spinach Salad and Green Bean Salad. Well, this time I added a Vietnamese coriander in it.
If you are not familiar with this herb, you should give it a try. It is one of my favorite herb to cook with when it comes to Southeast Asian food. Don’t be mistaken with the regular coriander. They are totally different in look and flavor altogether. The Vietnamese coriander/Polyganum leaves or known as rau ram or daun kesum is very lemony and refreshing in smell. It is very commonly used in a curry laksa dish. It is not easy to find this herb as they are pretty much available only in most Asian grocery store. The frustration I find with shopping at Asian grocery store are they are not as organized as the Western grocery store and lots of the fresh herbs are not label. I usually have to tear the leaf a bit to smell it and make sure that it’s the polyganum leaves because there’s no label on the package. So, ask the shop keeper if you aren’t sure about it. Other than that, this is my favorite to add into salad dishes, curry dishes and even noodle dishes.
This eggplant salad is so wonderful because the eggplant is roasted and then topped with peanuts, shallots, and the Vietnamese coriander. So simple, yet robust in flavor. Love it! If you’ve been following my recipes for the past few weeks, yes..I’m into sprinkling shallots crisps into vegetable dishes! so what!?! 🙂
EGGPLANT SALAD WITH LAKSA LEAVES
- 1 lb of purple eggplants
- 6 shallots (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 1 Tbsp of fried shallots crisp
- 1 Tbsp of grape seeds oil or any oil you prefer
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/3 cup of Vietnamese coriander/rau ram (known as "daun kesum" in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia)
- 1/3 cup of chopped roasted peanuts
- Dash of salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil. Prick the eggplants with a fork all over and then place on the baking sheet and bake for the next 20-30 minutes until the eggplants are really soft. Use a tongs to turn it during baking. Set aside to let it cool down
In a meantime, prepare the toppings by mixing the sliced shallots, lime juice, and oil. Set aside. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, slice the eggplants into half and use a spoon to scrap the filling down into a bowl and mash it with a fork. It won't be smooth and leave it a bit lumpy
Add in the shallots mixture and toss to mix everything. Topped with chopped peanuts, fried shallots crisp, and the salt and toss again. Have a taste and add more salt if needed. Serve immediately
Vietnamese Coriander is not widely available in grocery store, but they can be found in most Asian grocery store. Usually labeled as "Rau Ram" or sometimes not labeled at all so you need to ask the shop keeper. When you tear the leaf a little, it will release this very distinctive smell, somewhat fresh and lemony. If you have problem finding it, feel free to use the regular coriander leaves. They are totally different flavor with the Vietnamese Coriander, but coriander leaves have a nice flavor too and it will complement the salad really well