A healthy, super easy 10-minute eggplant salad with tips and tricks of keeping the eggplants perfectly purple and beautiful. The eggplant is boiled to the perfect texture, chilled then mixed with a classic savory, nutty, garlicky Taiwanese dressing. This dish is perfect for summer and easy to make ahead if you’re entertaining guests.
I’m not sure what it is about eggplants, but I love it. It probably has something to do with the beautiful deep purple color it has and the ability to soak up all the yummy flavor it’s soaked in- then it explodes in your mouth. YUM.
The trickiest thing about these beauties is the fact that it’s almost impossible to keep them purple after they’re cooked. They often turn into a sad brown color after it’s cooked, but here’s the tip for a vibrantly purple eggplant salad.
How to keep your eggplants purple
What makes the eggplant brown? Eggplant, when exposed to the air and heat, quickly oxidizes and turns brown, kind of the way an apple goes brown after it is cut and exposed to air. The trick is to keep the eggplant below the surface when boiling, also not too deep that it’s touching the pot.
Here are a few extra pointers to ensure a perfectly purple eggplant:
- Make sure the pot is boiling before adding the eggplants
- Cut the eggplants right before adding them to the pot, and the longer the better so they are easier to manage/ keep below the surface.
- Make sure the eggplants are below the water and not touching the bottom of the pot. I used a plate that fits perfectly inside the pot and held it down with a tong to keep the plate from boiling away.
- Cool the eggplants right away after they’re cooked to stop the heat.
In Taiwan, our everyday eggplant is a type of long eggplant. You can find “Pingtung Long Eggplant” on Seed Savers Exchange if you want to try to grow them. I love the texture of these beauties, they’re firm but soft and the skin is thinner, unlike the round eggplants. It doesn’t take long to boil and they are perfect for a salad like this.
You can also find long eggplants at Rochester Downtown Farmers Market!
The dressing is super simple, yet flavorful. This is my favorite sauce of all time, it’s also great for dipping your pork and cabbage dumplings or gyozas in. The chili adds a bit of a kick, but you can omit it. The garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil are the essentials to Taiwanese cooking and they work together in perfect harmony.
- 3 Long Asian Eggplants PingTung Long or Oriental Express
- 3 TBsp Soy Sauce
- 1 TBsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 TBsp Sugar
- 1/2 TBsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 4 Cloves of Garlic Minced
- 1 Thai Red Chili Chopped
- 1 Small bunch of Cilantro Chopped, about 1/4C
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1tsp of salt to the boiling water, add the eggplants (cut to a length that will fit in the pot). Add a plate or something heavy to keep the eggplants submerged in water but not touching the bottom of the pot. Boil for 5 minutes.
- Prepare a mixing bowl filled with cold water. Remove the cooked eggplants from boiling water into the mixing bowl immediately to cool the eggplants.
- Once the eggplants are cooled down, cut into desired length and size.
- Mix together all the dressing ingredient and pour over the eggplant, mix well and serve.
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