Aubergine, eggplant, brinjal, whatever you call it, they all refer to the same vegetable. I have grown to love this vegetable after realising how versatile it can be used in cooking. It tastes wonderful in the French ratatouille, roasted, mashed and made into dips, seasoned and grilled over charcoal, battered and deep-fried into Japanese tempura, braised, stuffed in the Malaysian Yong Tau Fu and the list goes on.
Chinese New Year dishes come early this time round. For those of you who will be preparing reunion dinner next February may want to give this recipe a go. It has all my favourite ingredients all in one platter. Here I have chosen the pre-soaked sea cucumber which is springy in texture, not the hard and dried ones. Mainly because the hard dried ones need a long time to braise until edible. Truthfully, I don't have that sort of time to spare with a toddler constantly looking for my attention. All the ingredient quantities below can be increased to suit the size of your platter, so the recipe I am giving today is based on the size of my platter.
Here in Malaysia, it is made into the popular soup, 'Sai Yong Choy Thong' (in Cantonese). Slow-boiled with soup bones, usually chicken or pork, some dried oysters and a handful of dried red dates creates a wonderful aroma fit to satisfy a rumbling tummy on a cool stormy day. I look forward to this slow-boiled soup very often.
I picked up a book on "Five-a-Day, fruit and vegetable cooking" sometime ago. What it says makes sense to me anyway. If we need to eat fruits and vegetables, why not eat different types of them together as a dish. Each vegetable or fruit has its own plus points. For example, petai (stinking bean) which has a very pervasive smell but is considered a very highly sought after ingredient in Malaysia especially when cooked with 'sambal belacan' and dried shrimps.