Sunday, September 28, 2008

With Rice: Cà Tím Dồn Thịt (Stuffed Eggplant)

This is the last post of my mom's cooking for a bit. I am writing back at home, where I have to cook for myself... However, my mom may come for a visit in a few weeks and I'll try to get her to cook up some more things then.

Cà tím dồn thịt (stuffed eggplant with meat) is one of my favourite dishes to eat with rice. I like the pieces of eggplant stuffed with meat. I like the soy sauce that I can drizzle on my rice. When I visit my mom, I usually get a Tupperware (well, not real - that stuff is expensive!) full to take home with me and this visit was no different!

Like bánh củ cải, this is a dim sum dish that I never order at dim sum. I have eaten a very similar dish in my alleyway in Vietnam; they were various vegetables, such as khổ qua (bitter melon), tomatoes, eggplant and tofu, stuffed with a meat filling in a sweet sauce.

Cà Tím Dồn Thịt (Stuffed Eggplant)
My mom first fries the eggplant stuffed with meat, makes the sauce and then combines everything. This is not really a healthy recipe; eggplants absorb a lot of oil. Check Wandering Chopsticks' healthier version that is steamed! She also uses shrimp only! The pork and shrimp mixture is my mom's standard mixture for many Vietnamese dishes that require stuffing.

* 100 g ground pork
* 100 g shrimp, chopped
* ½ small onion, chopped
* salt and pepper, to taste
* 2 Japanese eggplants, sliced on the diagonal, 1.5" thick and then sliced more than halfway again to make a "sandwich" - see picture below
* 2 cups water
* 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
* 3 Tbsp sugar
* oil
* 1-½ tsp salt

Combine the first four ingredients into a food processor until you get an even mixture.
Stuff the eggplant pieces with a teaspoon or so of the filling. (I did a lot of this growing up. If a piece of the eggplant breaks off, just stick it to the meat. That's what I did...)
Fry eggplant "sandwiches" on each side and set aside - it does not have to be cooked through because it will continue cooking in the sauce.
Remove the fried pieces and set aside.
Once all the pieces are fried, add the water, dark soy sauce, sugar and salt to make the sauce.
Bring to a boil and add the eggplant "sandwiches" back in the sauce.
Lower heat to simmering and leave for half an hour.
Serve with rice.
Tada! (And hope for leftovers!)

Meat and shrimp mixture.

Stuff each eggplant "sandwich" with meat filling.

Eggplant "sandwich".

Eggplant "sandwiches" ready to be fried.

Eggplant "sandwiches" back in the sauce.

It does not look great but it's SO good. To be fair, this was microwaved when I got back to my home.

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