Thursday, November 13, 2008

Egg Plants

In Borneo, Singapore and Malaysia we call the deep purple ,long slim version of eggplant brinjal. I learnt it is also called aubergine. Since coming to New Zealand, and visiting the Auckland Winter Garden in the Domian, I found out that they come in various shapes and sizes and colour as well.

It is a spongy vegetable with lots of little seeds. You can make a casserole, bake, grill

, in a curry, sautée and even a dip.

The best eggplants are firm and shiny with unbroken skin. Smaller eggplants also tend to be less bitter. Freshness is important, the skin gets wrinkled if you store them for very long.

Some times, you get worms in them. A joke my aunty tells us is when will deliberately buy brinjals infested with worms. This gives her confidence that the brinjal is grown organically without the harmful pesticide. She added that she rather cut away the wormy part than to eat a beautiful brinjal full of hidden poison. My parents used to grow brinjal and they said it is the hardest vegetable to grow, and we had to go to the plant and catch the wriggly worms.

In Chinese cooking, my mum slices the brinjal in a slant, making lots of thin slices. Another older Chinese friend peels her brinjal. She said it makes it a smoother dish, but I think it is a waste of vitamins and fibre and also a waste of time. I follow my mum's method.

After cutting, she soaks them in some cold water and she swears that this will remove some of the bitterness. The residue water is brownish. So something must have been extracted.

Then she sautes the slices in oil, but not after she had fried garlic pieces until it gives a flagrant aroma. A little salt, a little sugar and a dash of dark soya sauce to give the dish a golden look. There you are, a delicious healthy dish to go with white rice.

Sometime when she feels really healthy, she cuts the brinjal lengthwise and puts them in the rice just as all the rice water have been absorbed. The we eat them in a garlic soya sauce dip.

Of course, Sarawak had the influence of the Indians. We eat a lot of curries. Brinjals can be part of a vegetarain curry, chicken curry or fish curry. Last Sunday, we ate snapper fillet curry at Cinta Malaysian curry at Dominion Road in Auckland. We patronise the place when we found the proprietors are from Sibu but that is not the only reason. The food is good, and the New Zealand Herald gave them a very good rating.

The Japanese deep fry them to make their tempera. The Shangrila Hotel in Singapore has an assortment of vegetable tempera and brinjal is one of them. My husband the water engineer doesn't eat brinjal the way I cook them, but he will eat the tempera.

***If you ever come to Auckland, I highly recommend you to spend some time in the Winter Garden. It's one of my many favourite places to go and marvel at God's creation. My friends are awed when they come with me and assure me that it is not a wasted trip Now you have seen the pix of a small white egg plant, you can conjecture why an egg plant is called an egg plant.****

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