Vietnamese braised aubergine

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I had this at the Viet Grill in Kingsland Road, Dalston, east London, my new best local Vietnamese restaurant, sister to my old best local Cay Tre in Old Street. It's great to move house and have a favourite neighbourhood restaurant open another branch nearby.

Hieu, one of the owners, told me that this dish is well-known and loved in the south of Vietnam - where he comes from - but that the food is very different in the north and this dish is probably unheard of there.

2 medium sized aubergines
1tbsp vegetable or corn oil
4 spring onions, shredded on the angle

for the nuoc cham dressing

2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium chilli
30g caster sugar
60ml fish sauce
125ml water

First make the sauce. Using either a mortar and pestle or a knife, grind the garlic and chillies to a coarse paste. Bring the sugar, fish sauce and water to the boil. Mix with the garlic paste and leave to cool.

Pre-heat a grill, place the aubergines on a tray lined with foil and cook them under the grill, turning them every so often until the skins are blackened.

Leave to cool for about 15 minutes then peel off the skin, cut the flesh into chunks and arrange on a warmed dish. Don't worry if the aubergine is a little bit soggy; it doesn't have to look neat.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the spring onions for a few seconds to soften them. Spoon them over the aubergine.

Spoon over the reheated nuoc cham dressing and serve.

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