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Vegan Eggplant Congee

Whenever I get a cold, which is often, I get too tired to cook anything fancy, but much too tired to go out and get food. Congee is the ultimate comfort food when you're sick, and eggplant is super-easy to cook. This dish also has turmeric for indigestion, cayenne pepper to flush out toxins and ginger and garlic to stimulate the immune system. If you are not vegan, consider using chicken broth in the congee, which can act as a mild decongestant, and some ground pork for protein if you're not scared of mad pig disease (Porcine Spongiform Encephalopathy). The eggplant can be prepared a day beforehand and stored in the fridge - it lacks the satisfying charred taste, but it gains from the flavors having longer to meld. All the measurements are fudge-able.

1 cup white rice
3-4 cups water
1 medium eggplant
1 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1" x 2" cube of ginger, shredded
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Dump the white rice and water into the rice cooker and turn it on. (Midway through cooking, when the grains appear soft, you'll throw in the shredded ginger and garlic.)

Wash skin of eggplant and dry it thoroughly. Quarter the eggplant lengthwise and then cut horizontally into wedges 1cm (a little less than 1/2") thick.

(If you are a picky eater or dislike the bitterness of eggplant, you should rub the eggplant slices in the salt, leave them to marinate for 30 minutes, throw the ginger and garlic into the rice cooker, then omit the salt from the next step.)

In a large mixing bowl, add the next 5 ingredients (salt through pepper) and stir thoroughly to mix. Pour in olive oil and stir again. (Or you can just lightly brush the eggplant slices with oil if your stomach is queasy or you desire to cut down on the fat in this recipe.)

Dump in all the eggplant slices and stir around till slices are throughly coated. Then arrange the slices on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil, and put it under a broiler for 10 minutes.

It's probably time to throw in the ginger and garlic by now.

When the 10 minutes are up, flip the eggplant slices over with tongs and broil for another 5 minutes or until pieces are soft and spotted in places.

Pull out the cookie tray and leave it to cool. When the congee is ready, serve the cooled broiled eggplant pieces on the side as a topping to be eaten with the rice.

January 9, 2004 in Recipes | Permalink