Eggplant with Chili Peppers, A Great Condiment

Vegetable Recipes

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)
  • Salt

Steps:

  • 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.

Serve with fried/crispy baked fish (red snapper, grouper, tilapia would work well here)/ roast chicken and rice.

Spicy Eggplant

Eggplant, Vegetable Recipes

(Harini’s Version of Balado Terong, origin: West Sumatra)

My mom’s family came from the west part of the Sumatra Island. We, the children, are very much addicted to the cuisine from this part of Indonesia. The food from this region tends to be VERY spicy and rich! One of my favorites is the spicy eggplant or balado terong. Balado is a red sauce made of chopped peppers, shallots, garlic, and salt. Terong is eggplant in Bahasa Indonesia.

We normally would have spicy eggplant as a side dish to go with grilled chicken or fried tempeh or fried fish. If I want to make it as a main dish, I’d add shrimp to the spicy eggplant.

Serve over white jasmine rice. Most Indonesian cuisines are served with white rice, as the main source of carbohydrate (and also), to neutralize the bold flavors.

Here’s how I prepare the dish:

Chop and mix the following items to make the sauce in a food processor:

  • 7-10 Long red peppers, like cayenne.

  • If the long red peppers are not available, don’t give up. Substitute with 2 red bell peppers
  • 5-7 Thai peppers
  • 4-5 Shallots
  • 3-4 Cloves of garlic
  • A Pinch of salt
  • Cut up one big eggplant OR two skinny eggplants into cubes, place on a plate, and cook to soften for 3 minutes in a microwave oven. (Or put them on a grill with a little bit of oil to avoid sticking for about 2 minutes on each side. You could also broil the cut eggplants for about 3-4 minutes until they turn brownish.) Eggplant absorbs a lot of oil and water. The softening technique helps to expedite cooking time and to avoid using too much oil.
  •  Heat up one tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a deep frying pan (medium heat)
  • Add the sauce to the pan carefully and let it sizzle for a minute as it lets its moisture out
  • Add the cut up eggplant (and shrimp too if you want) into the sizzling pan and mix evenly with the sauce
  • Cover the pan with a lid for 15-20 minutes and reduce the heat just a little bit

The dish is ready when the eggplant is soft and the balado sauce has lost most of its moisture.

Serve 2-4

Disclaimer: I like this dish to be VERY spicy. Please adjust the number of hot peppers according to your spicy-tolerance level.