Eggplant Char Siu-Style and Other Vegetable Revelations from Tenderheart #SundayFunday
October is National Cookbook Month. I decided it was a good excuse to grab some of those underused books from my shelf and actually cook from them. And I invited the Sunday Funday writers to join me.
Every October - for National Cookbook Month - I take on the challenge to crack the spine on some of my unused cookbooks. This year I invited the Sunday Funday group to kick off the month with me. And you are invited, too: cook from a book and share it. Here's what my #SundayFunday colleagues are sharing this weekend...
Arbi Tandoori by Sneha's Recipe
Eggplant Char Siu-Style and Other Vegetable Revelations from Tenderheart by Culinary Cam (you're here)
Laknavi Kofta Curry by Mayuri's Jikoni
Lavash Pizza with Cauliflower, Fennel, and Mozzarella by Karen's Kitchen Stories
Pesto Potato Salad with Dijon Mustard by Amy's Cooking Adventures
Weekend Camping Cookbook: Skillet Enchiladas by Our Good Life
On the Page
When I was listening to a podcast on The Splendid Table, Francis Lam was interviewing Hetty Lui McKinnon about her latest cookbook, Tenderheart: A Cookbook About Vegetables and Unbreakable Family Bonds. You can listen to the episode: here.
I immediately ordered the cookbook and have been enjoying vegetables in new and exciting ways ever since. For McKinnon, this book is an homage to her dad, a Chinese immigrant to Australia. Her father moved to Sydney as a teenager and learned to speak English while selling bananas at a local market. Through the boxes of vegetables he brought home to the family, McKinnon learned about the utility and flexibility of fruits and vegetables.
There are several recipes that have been made it to my table; and many, many more that are on my to-cook list! Keep an eye out for Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi with Rice Cakes, Carrot Peanut Satay Ramen, Spinach and Mint Ruffled Milk Pie, and Tomato and Coconut-Braised Cabbage and Lentils.
I have already tried her Cabbage and Kimchi Okonomiyaki, Fennel Frond Pesto, Spinach with Sesame Miso and Soba Noodle, and Seared Sugar Snap Peas (from her Miso-Maple Sugar Snap Pea, Turnip, and Strawberry Salad). McKinnon's recipes showcase the simplicity of beautiful, in-season produce. It's a refreshing revelation!
When most people think of Char Siu, they likely picture those the strips of barbecued roast pork with their signature crimson exterior. This is not that. What it is: eggplant marinated in an aromatic, slightly sweet. The eggplant, like a sponge, absorbs the sauce before it's roasted. Roasting renders the eggplant beautifully silky. I served this with white rice and a sprinkling of furikake for an amazingly filling and fulfilling dinner.
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch discs
olive oil for drizzling
sliced green onions and furikake for serving
Also needed: baking sheet with parchment paper, pastry brush
Char Siu Sauce
2 small garlic cloves, grated
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
4 teaspoons maple syrup or raw honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar or Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
Char Siu Sauce
Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the eggplant slices, pressing down so they are completely submerged. Marinate for 30–60 minutes or up to 4 hours in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Arrange the marinated eggplant slices on the prepared pan, drizzle with olive oil. Save the marinade for basting. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and flip the eggplant over. Using a pastry brush, swab each slice with more of the marinade and drizzle with more olive oil. Return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.
When fully-cooked, brush the tops of the eggplant slices with more of the marinade. Serve the eggplant with rice, topped with the sliced green onions and a sprinkle of furikake.
That's a wrap for my Sunday Funday offering for National Cookbook Month. But keep an eye out for more cookbook-inspired posts. I already shared that I have a lot of unused cookbooks that get some attention from me this month. Stay tuned!