This sweet and salty Cambodian dish is intensely flavoured by the smokiness of the grilled eggplant. Eggplant is actually a fruit from the nightshade family, there are many different varieties but the one used here is a Japanese eggplant. Eggplant is made up of 95% water, so when it's cooked it acts as a sponge and really absorbs all the flavours.
1 long Japanese eggplant
100 g lean pork
1 garlic clove
1 red Asian shallot
2 tbsp fermented soy beans
2 teaspoons palm sugar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 spring onion, sliced, for garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chargrill the eggplant over charcoal or a gas flame for 10-15 minutes, or until blackened and soft.
On a chopping board, mince the pork and also chop the garlic and shallot using a heavy cleaver.
In a mixing bowl, combine the minced pork, fermented soy beans, palm sugar and oyster sauce, and mix well.
In a hot wok, add oil, garlic and shallot and sauté until fragrant. Add the pork mince mixture and stir-fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until cooked.
Dip the eggplant in a bowl of cold water, then and peel off and discard the blackened skin. Transfer to a serving plate. Slice the eggplant down the middle and flatten the eggplant out with your knife.
Spoon the cooked pork onto the eggplant and garnish with sliced spring onion and serve.