16 August 2015

(Serves 6-8)

Everyone has his or her own version of comfort food, be it chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie. For me its anything that is related to stews, noodles or broth! I just can’t get enough of it, I mean it’s 90F out and I still want a bowl of Pho or Bò Kho, you get my drift. Although, stews and soups are more time consuming to make they are actually pretty difficult to ruin and are fully packed with flavor; some of the many reasons why I love it so much.

Vietnamese Eggplant Stew with Pork Belly and Perilla Leaves is one of my all time favorite stews and a great way to prepare eggplant. Perilla leaves is the key to making this stew so mouthwateringly delicious. Unfortunately, the pictures I took of the perilla leaves did not turn out well so I could not include them for you here. The leaves are a deep purple on the one side and dark green on the other and has a strong distinct aroma that infuses itself throughout this stew.

Alas, for me it can only be bought at the Asian store an hour in a half away…sometimes not even then! So now I’ve made it a habit, when possible, to always make a huge pot after every trip and freeze it for when I am randomly in the mood for a meal loaded with eggplants, pork belly and tofu! You can substitute the pork belly for bacon if you can’t get your hands on some pork belly but there is just a slight adjustment to the ingredients and cooking method. (If there are requests I can do a future post with bacon, please leave a comment below.)

            Also, I wanted to include a picture of the tamarind concentrate that I used in case you needed a reference as it is an unusual ingredient. I have to say that this makes it a lot easier than having to extract flavor from the dried solidified tamarind. And as far as I can tell, this jar lasts forever in the fridge (not that it stays in the fridge for that long since I use it very often in my cooking). 

3 1/2 lbs eggplant cut into 2 inch pieces

1. Sprinkle eggplant with salt, toss to mix thoroughly and let sit for about an hour.

2. Drain the released water.

3. Rinse with water and let drain in a colander.

4 tsp salt

3/4 lb pork belly cut into 1/4 inch pieces

4. Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for about 30 minutes.

1/2 tsp msg (optional)

1 tsp salt

2 tsps sugar

2 1/2 tbsps turmeric

2 tbsps vegetable oil

5. In a dutch oven, heat the oil on medium high heat and soften the garlic and scallion (about 2-3 minutes).

6. Increase to medium high heat and add in the pork and stir constantly for about 8 minutes to prevent the turmeric from burning and the pork to cook evenly.

1/3 cup scallion, white parts only, chopped

1/3 cup garlic, coarsely chopped

6 tbsps tamarind concentrate

7. Lower to medium heat, add water, fish sauce and tamarind concentrate to the pot.

8. Toss in the eggplant and tomatoes and mix gently.

9. Cover and stew for about 20 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes to ensure the vegetables cook evenly.

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup fish sauce

1 lb roma tomatoes, cut into 4 pieces lengthwise.

14 oz firm tofu blocks, cut into 12 pieces and fried (or pre-fried tofu)

10. Add tofu and gently mix, cover and stew for about 10 minutes until vegetables are almost falling apart and the tofu absorbs the flavor of the stew.

4 oz perilla leaves, chopped

11. Turn off heat, add perilla leaves, stir gently to incorporate and slightly cook the leaves with the residual heat.

12. Serve hot with rice.

blog comments powered by Disqus