Friday, May 25, 2007

Waiter, there's something in my...aubergine!

Jeanne is hosting this month's edition of Waiter, there's something in my stuffed fruit/vegetable. I opted for the veggie option by using these thai aubergines and stuffing then with a mix for nem nuong. Nem nuong are vietnamese pork balls that you grill and then assemble into wraps with salad etither in big lettuce leafs or rice paper. The first time I ate them was in Vientiane (Laos) when I was traveling with my friend Lisa. The owner of the small sandwich shop we were eating at recommended us this dish and we were very happy we took her up on her offer. She explained to us how to make the rolls and the ingredients so I could recreate it at home. The only distraction during this lunch was a Canadian girl eating outside and sharing her adventures with some friends. She was fairly loud and we were nosey so we listened in on the coversation. Little did we know that we would meet this girl, Sharon, the following day as we flew to Vietnam and would get on so well that we'd travel together for the next three months!

Last weekend I went to London for the long weekend and Lisa, Sharon and I met up (post to follow). We had a lovely time with lots of chatting and eating. It's amazing how you can not see each other for a year and then get right into the swing of things again. One of the highlights was a great Vietnamese meal which brought back lots of memories and stories. I'd however forgotton about the Nem nuong and when I got home and was flicking through this book, I ran into them again and WTSIM was the perfect event to recreate them in a different format. I like the thai eggplant as they have a slightly more bitter taste and love their small and dinky appearance. The combination worked well, the pork was moist and sweet and the slight bitter eggplant balanced this nicely. We ate it with rice cakes (from the chinese supermarket), stirfried veg and a Vietnamese dipping sauce. On the down side the aubergines were a bit fidley to hollow out and I had way too much filling. I filled 6 and could have probably done 24 at least! We decided to just grill the left over pork mince as little balls and have them with rice and salad tomorrow.

Aubergines filled with Vietnamese pork mince
24 thai
225 g lean pork
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
30g minced pork fat
1 tbsp roasted rice powder*

Slice the pork and place it into a bowl with the shallots, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and pepper. leave to marinade between 1-24 hr. Before proceeding, transfer this mix to the freezer for roughly 30 min. In the mean time slice the top off the aubergines and hollow them out, cut the flesh into small chuncks. In a food processor, wizz the fat to a paste, then add the chilled slices of pork and process till it forms a ball of rubbery paste. Add the rice powder and the scooped out flesh of the aubergines and process this in very briefly. Scoop a ball of this into the aubergines, place the top back on and bake 30 min at 180°C.

* roast 1/4 cup of thai sticky or jasmine rice until golden brown. Grind down in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle till a fine powder. This will keep well in a jar. Alternatively, I've cheated and just roasted some rice flower instead.

Vietnamese dipping sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 minced garlic clove
1 minced small chili
shredded carrot


Di said...

These sound fab! I'm glad you had a good time in London and look forward to hearing all about it!

Jeanne said...

These look wonderful! And well done you for stuffing those dinky little aubergines. The pork mince recipe sounds fab and I'll definitely be bookmarking it. Thanks for participating in WTSIM and hope to see you again next month :)

Caroline said...

What a gorgeous photo!!!!

Andrew said...

not too keen on aubergines but the mince and the sauce I am certainly going to try out.

Thanks for a great Waiter entry.

thepassionatecook said...

oh... i'd have loved to meet you! next time you're here, please do drop me a line!!!