Why It Works
- Soaking eggplants in a vinegar tub for simply 10 minutes helps forestall them from turning brown throughout cooking, whereas flavoring them gently with a little bit of vivid acidity.
- Steaming (or microwaving) the eggplants each ensures a delicate cooking methodology that preserves its vivid colours.
- The dressing takes on a spicy twist with the addition of chili oil to an all-purpose vinaigrette base.
Eggplant is without doubt one of the hottest greens utilized in chilly Chinese language dishes generally known as liangcai (涼菜). Its light sweetness and tender texture works very nicely with a wide range of flavors, from garlic and vivid herbs to nutty sesame pastes. This model presents the eggplant with a dressing primarily based on my “all-purpose” Chinese-style vinaigrette, however given a spicy taste with the addition of some chili oil. I additionally add minced garlic and scallion greens for brightness and herbaceousness.
The fundamental all-purpose French dressing is one thing I got here up with after questioning if it may be doable to develop a Chinese language-vinaigrette rule-of-thumb just like the Western 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar in dressings. After learning many chilly dish recipes, I landed on a ratio of three:3:1:1 by quantity of soy sauce to fragrant oil to vinegar to sugar, respectively. This is not an absolute rule you may encounter in all of Chinese language cooking, nevertheless it’s a sensible framework for growing dressings which are versatile and balanced. It is also an important jumping-off level for variations, corresponding to my addition of chili oil right here rather than a part of the fragrant oil in my primary French dressing recipe.
The perfect eggplants for this salad are the lengthy, slim Chinese language eggplants. Discover ones which are agency, with vivid, darker purple on the outside and brilliantly white inside. As a result of Chinese language eggplant usually has fewer seeds than globe eggplant, it tends to be sweeter. Chinese language eggplant can also be extra proof against dissolving into mush when cooked completely, and it retains a pleasantly stringy texture. To guard its purple coloration, the eggplant is soaked briefly in white vinegar, which causes the anthocyanin within the pores and skin to seem extra vibrant.
I like serving this dish on the aspect of a family-style meal, particularly if the primary programs are heavier and heat. Although this salad is served chilly, it would not shrink back from layers of taste and might stand by itself when eaten with flavorful stir-fries and braised meats. The dressing can also be scrumptious over white rice.