Sambal Eggplant (มะเขือผัดน้ำพริก สไตล์มาเลเซีย)

I LOVE eggplant. If we go to a Malaysian or Chinese restaurant, and they have eggplant on the menu – I’m ordering it.

For a long long time I’ve struggled with cooking eggplant at home. They’re so hard to get it right….. they either become too mushy, too soft to work with, or too raw in the middle.

I’m now eventually surrendered to the fact that eggplant needs to be deep fried for them to reach their maximum potential.

Yes, it’s unhealthy to deep fry your food. Yes, the suckers absorb a ton of oil. No, you cannot steam them instead. Because they don’t taste the same!

Still not convinced about deep frying? Don’t make it. Just know that you’re missing out on life. BIG TIME.

Right, now that the guilt ramble is out of the way…. here’s the recipe 🙂

Serves: 4 normal people, or 2 eggplant lovers

What you need

  • 2 Large eggplants, approx. 700 g
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 15 Dried red chillies, cut into halves, and soaked in hot water for 30 mins to soften. Drain.
  • 3 Tbsp Dried shrimps, soaked in hot water for 30 mins to soften. Drain.
  • 3-5 Fresh red chillies
  • 1/4 c Shallots
  • 1 tsp Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Shrimp paste (กะปิ)
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp Tamarind concentrate
  • Salt
  • Sugar

How to put this together

  1. In a small pan, dry roast shrimp paste until fragrant
  2. Grind together dried red chillies (soaked & drained) + dried shirmps (soaked & drained) + fresh chillies + shallots + garlic + roasted shrimp paste until you get a paste (I use magic bullet). Add a little water to help it along, if required.
  3. Cut your eggplant into medium size pieces, about 1.5 x 3 inch pieces.
  4. In a small pot, heat about 1 inch of oil on high heat
  5. Working in batches, deep fry eggplant pieces until they’re cooked and have some colours on the edges. It should take 2-3 mins per batch.
  6. Rest these on a plate, propped up slightly on one side to let excess oil flow to lower side. Discard excess oil.
  7. Heat 3 Tsbp oil in a pan on medium heat
  8. Add curry paste, and fry until fragrant. Don’t rush this step – you want to cook out the rawness in shallots & garlic slowly. Add a splash of water if it starts to stick to the pan.
  9. Add eggplant. Gently stir to mix through.
  10. Taste. The next step will depend on how salty / deeply-flavoured your shrimp paste and dried shrimps are. Adjust next step accordingly.
  11. Add tamarind concentrate + a pinch of salt + a pinch of sugar. Gently mix through.
  12. Re-taste & season.
  13. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.