I have a marvelous neighbor named Marilyn. She takes care of my plants when I am away, keeps an extra set of keys for me when I get locked out and enjoys good food and wine. I try to have her over for dinner at least once every two weeks, which works out about right with my traveling schedule. That way, I feel I can get some healthy food into her at least once in a while. For my last dinner I made this Ottolenghi recipe of Pork with Ginger, Spring Onions and Eggplant and it was so delicious and different, I wanted to share it with you!
Brilliant cooking and ingredients in this recipe:
This recipe combines a unique way of cooking the eggplant that doesn’t use up oodles of oil, because you know how eggplant can easily absorb tons of it. Instead, you steam the eggplant in one of those little collapsible steamer baskets, or a fine mesh colander, which I think is just brilliant! And much lower in calories.
This dish also calls for many spring onions or scallions, as several Ottolenghi recipes do, and while I was unfamiliar with using so many, I now quite like the idea a lot and have been applying the concept to other recipes as well. They are delicious and add a lovely green spark.
The mirin, the salty and sweet effects of the different soy sauces, along with the crunchiness of the peanuts and toasted sesame seeds, all topped with cilantro, make this a super yummy dish. My kind of eating!
Marilyn and I both moved in at the same time when our building first opened nearly 13 years ago. She was a hot shot bankruptcy attorney with her own very successful private practice. (For example, early in his career, Mario Batali was one of her clients, before he started molesting the other women in the kitchen. And yay that Weinstein got his partial due but why did the jury have 7 men on it?)
Then Marilyn realized she started forgetting some things about her cases. And then she was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. So, she gave up her practice yet still lives next door with full time, live-in help.
I love Marilyn. She is always so positive and fun. Even today, she says she is happy and lucky. She subsequently named her two cats, Happy and Lucky and she uses the word, “delicious” to describe many things, including people. When in fact, SHE is delicious.
I cook and Marilyn brings the wine and we always have a hilarious time, discussing sex and old boyfriends of hers and my new online dating escapades.
And delicious is just the word she used over and over again for this dish, moaning mmm’s while she ate. Chop everything ahead of time and it is a one-dish meal that comes together quickly that I know you will probably want to make again and again.
So, give it a go and remember to serve it with LOVE and steamed rice. You can also think of Marilyn and me and our sex discussions!
Pork with Ginger, Spring Onions and Eggplant – An Ottolenghi Recipe – edited by me – serves 4
3 eggplants (2 lbs.), cut into 1¼” dice
¼ cup peanut oil
3 bunches spring onions, chopped on an angle into 1¼” pieces
2¾” piece ginger (60g), peeled, julienned
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 green chili, finely sliced, seeds in (I used ¾ of a large jalepeno chili)
1¼ lb. ground pork
3 Tbs. mirin
2 Tbs.dark soy
2 Tbs. keçap manis – it is a thick and dark molasses-like sauce with palm sugar and soy sauce as its base and with the addition of aromatic spices for flavor. The word manis means “sweet” in Malay/Indonesian and so the sauce is often referred to as “sweet soy sauce.” Here is a link to make your own! https://bit.ly/2wFeIGB
1 tsp. sesame oil (I used toasted sesame oil)
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
3/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped plus more for garnish
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1 Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted
Fresh lime wedges
As Yotam recommends, get everything chopped beforehand so you can just quickly throw things in the pan and have this ready in a jiffy!
Place the eggplant in a bowl with 1½ tsp salt. Mix well, then transfer to a steamer (or a colander). Fill a large saucepan with water to a depth of 1 inch. Bring to the boil, then place the steamer (or colander) in the pan and cover with the lid or seal well with tinfoil to prevent the steam escaping. Reduce the temperature to medium-high and steam for 12 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, pour half the oil into a large sauté pan on high heat. Add spring onion, ginger, garlic and chili and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the garlic starts to color. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the pork and fry, breaking up lumps, for 3 minutes. Add the mirin, soy sauce, keçap manis, sesame oil, vinegar and ½ tsp salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then return the spring onion mixture to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat – there should be plenty of liquid – and stir in the cilantro and one half of the peanuts.
Spread the eggplant on a platter and top with the pork mixture. Garnish with the sesame seeds, remaining peanuts and cilantro. A squeeze of fresh lime is also very nice!
Serve with steamed rice and LOVE, along with fresh lime wedges. Enjoy!!