This salad works well as a side for grilled or fried chicken, grilled or steamed fish, stir-fries, or curries. The dressings will also work well for a variety of salads from green beans to cucumbers to beef, so feel free to apply them to anything rattling around in your fridge.
• 4 long, green Thai eggplants (You should be able to find these in a good Asian market. If not, only the slender, Japanese variety can be substituted.) • About 15 mint leaves, torn
• 2 to 3 shallots, very thinly sliced, raw • 1 tablespoons chopped chives
• 1/8 teaspoon roasted red chili powder, or to taste
• 2 hard-boiled chicken eggs, cooked, peeled and halved
Dressing: • 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
• A small pinch of palm sugar or white caster sugar
Poke holes in the eggplants with a fork. Grill them over high heat until the outside is charred, or place them above the flames of your gas stovetop burner, and char the outsides over an open gas flame, turning regularly (this is a good way to set off your smoke alarm, too). When they are soft and charred, put in a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them rest.
Make the dressing as the eggplants cool. Mix fresh lime juice with fish sauce. Taste it. If you think it's not right, adjust with more fish sauce or lime, and then smooth out the bumps with just a little sugar. It should be salty and sour in equal measure.
Peel eggplants entirely (don't worry if a few pieces of burnt skin fall in the soft, fleshy mix). Add shallots, mint, chives, chili powder, and dressing, and toss well. Taste again, and season further if necessary. Serve still warm, on a small plate with the eggs, whose yolks make a great counterpoint to the sour spice.
To read more about Jarrett Wrisley's discovery of Thai salads, click here.