Even though I am Peranakan and most at ease with Nonya dishes, I sometimes resort to short cuts whenever I can, like this sambal dish cooked in a non-traditional manner.
This one is brinjal (sambal terong), but roasted in the oven instead of being fried the traditional way. It is topped with sambal, shrimp fry, fried shallots and nuts.
My inspiration comes from a similar dish served at Baba Wins in Tiong Bahru Plaza, where a Cantonese woman turns out Peranakan dishes from her mother-in-law’s recipes. She serves a sambal brinjal, also topped with shrimp fry. I merely added shallots and nuts to it. It has become a hit, with guests asking for it whenever they come for dinner.
Unlike the traditional Nonyas who fry brinjal, I find it more convenient to roast it in the oven. You remove it when it is nicely coloured and soft upon pressing.
As for the sambal, you could, of course, make it from scratch.
It is one of the classic sambals made from titek paste, the mother spice paste in Nonya cuisine. This is chilli, onion, belacan or shrimp paste and, if you like, you can add candlenut for extra richness.
You pound it or put it in the food processor, then brown it in a little oil until fragrant and spread it over the roasted brinjal.
I opt instead for ready-fried sambal from a bottle (I use Glory or Sing Long Nonya sambal chilli).
I then scatter copious amounts of shrimp fry (I use Japanese roasted sakura ebi for convenience), shallots (sold ready-fried) and roasted nuts (pistachios or whatever you have) over the sambal. This is a dish that gives new meaning to the phrase “eat your vegetables”.
Get Sylvia Tan’s Roasted Brinjals With Nuts, Shallots And Shrimp Fry recipe here.
Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her most recent recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.
Text: Sylvia Tan/The Straits Times / Photos: 123rf.com, Pixabay
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