Sometimes we don’t have much time, energy or resource for lengthy recipes. Over time I am going to build a page of recipes containing 5 ingredients or less. Soups, pastas , curries, salad , sauces etc.. I am not including salt or oil or water or other absolute basics in the count. I’ll also include optional extras so you can take a basic recipe and build on it in your own way.
My friend at Champagne Cartel posted today looking for an eggplant recipe. I thought I’d put it to the Five Items test.
Viet style pork mince w/ eggplant. serves 4.
500 gm pork mince.
2 medium shiny eggplants.
8 cloves chopped garlic.
500ml chicken stock (optional, water will suffice).
1 good splash (metric) of sweet soy.
1 bunch spring onions.
Peel the eggplants and slice into 1-2 cm discs. Shallow fry them in a wide base pot or saucepan. Remove and drain on some kitchen towel. Sauté the pork mince in a little oil. Stir it a lot to break it down and get rid of lumps. Add a little salt.
At first it will want to release moisture and begin stewing. This is fine.
Keep cooking it until the moisture starts to evaporate and the mince takes on some colour. Add the garlic.
Once you’ve got a little colour going add the eggplant back to pot and stir it through the pork mince.
The idea is to really break down the eggplant here so it starts to form part of the sauce. Add stock and soy.
Simmer gently for 1/2 an hour, stirring occasionally to keep it off the bottom. If it dries out, add some water.
The thing to watch now is consistency. Let the moisture evaporate so you have the consistency of a bolognaise.
Finish with the washed and sliced spring onions. Fold them through and serve.
Serving suggestions – serve this over some steamed rice or noodles or in lettuce cups. Or just shovel it into your mouth whilst no-one’s looking 🙂
Optional extras –
Some basil or coriander would finish this dish well.
Fresh chopped chilli or chilli sauce even.
Cashews – toasted, crushed and sprinkled over the top.
Star Anise – add a couple when you add the stock and remove before serving. This really gives the dish some body.
Green peas – use fresh ones occasionally and get kids to shell them. I would love it when my mum let me do this.
A fried egg on top.
What Kid did-
Kid peeled the eggplants with a good potato peeler. This will only work with a sharp peeler and firm eggplants. Otherwise use a knife and do it yourself probably. Kid put away the groceries and took the rubbish out. It’s like having my own little home apprentice. She also washed the spring onions , stirred the pot sometimes and kept me company.
The British call them Aubergines. I wish we did too, such a lovely word to say.
Leave the skin on if you like, it’s just easier to get kids to accept it without.
A really versatile vegetable, a delight to eat when prepared properly and a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
There is a school of thought that says they should be salted before cooking to reduce oil absorption and bitterness.
It helps but doesn’t have to be the case. A lot of the bitterness in eggplants has been bred out through farming practises.
They do need to be cooked properly though until the flesh is super soft to be at their best.
Once thought to be nutritionally neutral, amongst other things they are now known to be high in vitamin B and B12 -a great source for vegetarians.
The best eggplant dishes I’ve eaten were in Vietnam and Italy. And now my place too.