Aha! Another eggplant inspiration. After I told my mom about the grilled eggplant I recently made, she gave me another dish idea to try: eggplant and chili peppers or sambal terong. Sambal is a blend of chopped fresh chili peppers and it is used as a condiment. (Think salsa, only more intense.) Like my mom, I usually add garlic, shallots, and a half slice of small tomato in it too. Sambal alone has so many varieties in Indonesia. This dish is just one variant of it. Terong is eggplant in Bahasa Indonesia. So sambal terong is basically eggplant mashed in a mixture of chili peppers.
At my parents’, a type of sambal is served daily, typically on this traditional stone mortar, to accompany the main dishes. Man, now that I think about it, that’s a lot of chili peppers! And that’s only one household. Hmm…I wonder how much the total consumption of chili peppers would be in a country of 240 something million people. But I digress 😀
Anyway, here’s how I did my version of eggplant with chili peppers. I served it as a side to my fried red snapper fillets.
(Warning: This eggplant dish could be very spicy for those who are not used to chili peppers. Please see the milder version.)
In a food processor, chop:
- 7-9 Thai peppers (For a milder version, use 2-3 Thai peppers or 2-3 Hot Finger peppers. I notice that, with chili peppers, the smaller the peppers the more intense. So if Thai peppers are not for you, choose bigger but skinny chili peppers. In my humble opinion, Hot Finger peppers have similar aroma and taste as Thai peppers but way milder.)
- 1 small tomato (For a milder version, use 1 small tomatoes)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 shallots
- (Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of shrimp paste—find it at Asian grocery store)
- Cut up the 1 long eggplant (or the big one we normally see in many grocery stores) into ½ inch thick slices. Drizzle with a tablespoon of vegetable/canola oil.
- Heat up a nonstick pan/grill griddle over medium heat and add a table spoon of vegetable/canola oil.
- Reduce the heat and place the cut up eggplants on the nonstick cookware. Let them cook and brown for 5 minutes on each side. (The eggplant should be soft when they are done.)
- In a medium bowl, combine eggplant with the chopped chili pepper mixture. Using a spoon, gently mash the eggplant, just a little bit, to blend it with the chili.