This month's Kulinarya Cooking Club challenge is Vegetables, Philippine Style. Thanks to Erika for a refreshing theme!
Ask a fellow Filipino what their favorite home cooked dish is, and most often you'll hear them craving for adobo, kare-kare, longganisa, or lechon kawali. We're a carnivorous bunch!
According to Encyclopedia of the Nations, the country's main agricultural crops are rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca (a banana-like plant). Secondary crops include peanut, cassava, camote (a type of rootcrop), garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi (a variety of lime), rubber, and cotton.
My featured dish is a grilled eggplant salad, which is a perfect accompaniment to all that meat we're craving! The tanginess of the dressing comes from calamansi, or Philippine limes. Adjust the sourness according to your taste, and if calamansi is not available, limes or lemons can be used. A drizzle of coconut cream rounds out the flavors. Add some crushed peanuts, chopped cilantro and more chili to the dressing for a Thai twist.
Grilled Eggplant Salad
1 Asian eggplant (long)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
1/2 tomato, diced
1 chili, minced
2 tablespoons fresh calamansi juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coconut cream
Grill the eggplant until skin is blackened. Let cool for a minute, then peel off the charred skin.
Dice eggplant and place in a serving dish. Top this with the diced tomatoes, shallots and minced garlic (which can be pan-fried in a bit of oil until lightly brown for a milder flavor).
For the dressing, combine the calamansi juice, fish sauce, sugar and minced chili. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour dressing over the salad and drizzle the coconut cream over to finish.