Taiwan: Braised Eggplant with Garlic and Basil

When I was in primary school – probably Grade 5 or 6, I did a project on Taiwan. To be entirely honest, the only information I remember about Taiwan is that it’s quite a small country in Asia, and that the capital is Taipei. I wouldn’t have been able to describe the flag to you, but I would have been able to pick it out from a line-up…I think.

What I have since discovered (in the process of writing this blog) is that Taiwan is an island (I definitely would have included this in my project) to the east of China. Wikipedia explains that Taipei, the capital, is well known for it’s night markets and street food. Before cooking this week my friend Faye (currently living in Shanghai) told me that the Taiwanese street food that they get in Shanghai is “delish.” She said they make some “delish egg pancake thingies” which I assume (from her choice of words) are delicious. I will perhaps have to try these too, or at least include a recipe for them.

I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s place in Rustenburg over the weekend, and my aunt had recently bought some beautiful aubergines from the little ‘padstal’ along one of the farm roads, for R2 each (about 12 US dollar cents). Aubergine (the term used in Britan) is another word for Eggplant (used in North America and Australia), or Brinjal (used in Southeast Asia and South Africa). While scouting Pinterest I discovered many Taiwanese recipes involving eggplant, and I therefore knew it was meant to be. Until I moved to Joburg I was never a fan of brinjal (gosh I don’t know which word to use), but grew to love it when cooked in our digs by my friend Laura. She would (and still does actually) roast or fry it in discs. Yum.

Brinjal prep

The recipe I used can be found here. We didn’t have access to chilli bean sauce, so instead substituted it with a chilli sauce from Pickles and Things which my aunt and uncle had in their fridge. I realise it’s not an entirely accurate substitution but it definitely did the trick (it’s super hot though!) We also added another spoonful of brown sugar at the end of the dish to counteract some of the spiciness, which I feel it did. We had to add slightly more cornflour too, but that also could have been that I didn’t stir it initially so I’m not sure how much thickening it did.

Brinjal cooking

 

Brinjal final.jpg

This dish got AMAZING reviews. My aunt had more (as did I) and my uncle, who doesn’t eat brinjal said it was delicious and that he would eat it again. He later proceeded to dip a bread roll in the remainder of the sauce. Patrick, my uncle’s Dad, also enjoyed it.

I cooked this dish again last night for my friends Darryn and Mark. They both said it was delicious and Darryn had seconds (and even thirds I think). This time I had to use that same Sambals stuff that I used for my Tostadas, and some extra chilli flakes. It was just as delicious as the first time.

It’s difficult to tell whether this is my favourite dish, because the others have all been so different (as is the name of the game with this challenge), but I was definitely very excited about the outcome, and it’s something I would certainly cook again, and again.

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