Meet Fluffy, a 2 lb. eggplant. 🙂When I first set my eyes on Fluffy, I knew I had to take her home. I visualized Fluffy transforming into this light, crispy, no-meat, delicious TV dinner. After downing that heavy-duty ramen yesterday (oh please check my previous blog post), I needed to give my gut a break.
I whipped up a dip as tangy as can be which I think is going to be my #1 to-go-to dip from now on. It’s called Tee’s guaco-jang Dip (see recipe below). In short, it’s a dip where Korea’s piquant, peppery gochujang married Mexico’s creamy, tangy guacamole right here in the Great Plains. Olé!
But before that, let me tell you about Fluffy, the lovely eggplant. She was a great find. Sometimes, it can be disappointing to cut into a beautiful eggplant only to find it rotten on the inside. Well, Fluffy didn’t disappoint. I was all set to cook “skinny”.
First, I set the oven to 350 degrees. I layered a baking tray with non-stick foil. After that, I sliced fluffy into 1/2 ” rounds just like so. It’ll only take say, 10 minutes to put it all together and bake. It’s that simple and fuss-free! Also, may I suggest that you prepare the dip first and leave it in the fridge. That way, the flavors will meld. Moreover, by the time the eggplant is done, it will be nice and cold. When a slice of the hot-off-the-oven eggplant hits the cold dip, it’s pure bliss!
- 1 Hass avocado
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime
- 1/2 tablespoon gochujang
- 2 thick slices of white onion- finely chopped
- 1 jalapéno or serrano chile — finely chopped (optional if you don’t want a fiery dip)
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup (I always use Grade B)
- a sprinkling of chopped spring onions
- a tablespoon of mayonnaise or full cream plain yogurt (optional)
- salt to taste
- Mash the avocado with a fork.
- Squeeze the lime juice over the mashed avocado to prevent discoloration.
- Mix the rest of the ingredients together. Taste for just the right amount of salt and citrus.
- Refrigerate until the eggplant is ready to be served hot off the oven.
Here’s the recipe on how to season the eggplant.
- 1 eggplant –about 2 lb.
- 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
- 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
To “bread” the eggplant, you’ll need:
- a quarter cup of panko (or more if need be; I used Kikkoman brand)
- a sprinkling of smoked paprika (it’s my latest obsession!)
1. Mix all the ingredients with the sliced eggplant rings.
2. Sprinkle the top and bottom of each eggplant with a generous amount of panko. Gently press panko into each eggplant slice.
3. Lay each slice of panko-ed eggplant on the baking tray. Sprinkle the top of each eggplant slice with a pinch of smoked paprika.
4. Bake the eggplant slices for about 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Here’s a lovely slice of Fluffy fresh out of the oven. It’s as pretty as a cake. And the the aromas? Mmm… inviting!
It’s crispy, “meaty” texture is indeed a real treat. As it Cooks thinks that the star ingredient is none other than the eggplant. Kind of like portobellos, eggplants have this delicious, “meaty,” earthy flavor that goes well simply as is or with meat or seafood in any dish. The crunch from the panko just takes it to another dimension where the french fries, or the even the tempuras belong minus the calories, carbs, and grease.
And the guaco-jang dip? The most interesting thing about this dip is the addition of gochujang. Piquant, it lends a subtle smoky, spicy flavor to conventional guacamole. A touch of maple syrup and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice bring the dip full circle.
It’s time to serve myself a slice of my hot, crispy, mmm meaty eggplant. Mr. Chi-Town took a bite and opined that the dish was, well, “off the charts.” Indeed, the “meat-y-ness coupled with the crispy-ness of the eggplant goes incredibly well with the nice, savory, creamy, lime-y, and spicy guaco-jang dip. It’s delectable vegetarian fares like these that make me want to carpé diem and blissfully go meat-free any time, any day!
What about you? Do you have a cool story about a hot delicious veggie that brought you bliss?