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Sticky Chilli Eggplant and Pork with Fresh Asian Herbs - ONE TRAY BAKE


I am currently the self appointed queen of One Tray Bakes. They’re proving to be my new ‘best friend’ since having a little bub and fitting my love of creating beautiful food into a day, no matter what little ‘hiccups’ may occur. More importantly though, they’re budget friendly and simply just damn delicious!

Beyond the world of new babies though, One Tray Bakes are seriously perfect for EVERYONE. They’re fabulous for people who are busy, don’t see themselves as culinary geniuses or simply want something easy when entertaining so they aren’t stuck slaving over a hot stove.

This week I’ve been missing the beautiful Asian food of Sydney’s Inner West. I’ve watched, mouth watering, as posts from foodie friends pop up. After being in Sydney for so long I’d forgotten how lucky I was to have those flavours on my doorstep, so while currently living in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, I was looking at those foodie posts and becoming super envious!

One of my favourite things to eat while out for an Asian feast is eggplant. Seabay in Pitt Street, does a great eggplant dish, but their Pepper Pork is to die for! We usually end up ordering seconds and occasionally even THIRDS! I couldn’t create those dishes myself at home, but the need for a dish using eggplant and pork was becoming a must.

To combat the craving, I created this Asian inspired One Tray Bake, and it definitely hit the spot with everyone.

Using fresh herbs to finish it off made sure there was a delicious punchy flavour, instead of everything ending up baked and one dimensional, which is the main thing to avoid when creating your own One Tray Bakes at home. Using fresh herbs, or a zesty drizzle is definitely one of my little “tricks” when creating my One Tray Bake recipes. I’m more than happy to share that little trick with all of you as I’d hate to see any of you suffering the overwhelming sadness of boring bakes!

STICKY CHILLI EGGPLANT AND PORK WITH FRESH ASIAN HERBS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Marinade:

2cm knob ginger, finely grated

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

3 tablespoons kecap manis

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sambal oelek

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Rice Bran oil

1/2 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped

2 long red chillies, thinly sliced

3 shallots, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 large eggplant

1 Pork fillet

Basmati rice, toasted sesame seeds and lime wedges to serve.

METHOD

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a ceramic or glass bowl big enough to use as the marinating dish for the pork. Stir to mix well.

Pour half of the marinade into another bowl. Finely chop 1/3 of both the coriander and mint. Add these to the second bowl, with half of the chillies and stir together to create the eggplant marinade. Set aside until you are ready to bake.

In another bowl toss together the shallots, coriander and mint. Set aside for serving along with a small bowl of the second half of the thinly sliced chilli.

Cut the pork fillet into 4 pieces. Add to the original bowl, toss to coat in the marinade and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. After at least 2 hours has passed for the pork to marinade, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Line a tray with baking paper and brush with the rice bran oil.

When the oven is hot, add the tray to heat the oil. Leave in the oven for 10 minutes.

While waiting for the tray and oil to heat, halve the eggplants and score to enable the marinade to penetrate the flesh.

3. After 10 minutes and when the tray and oil are hot, work quickly to add the eggplant, cut side down, to the tray. Place back into the oven for 10 minutes.

4. Next, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the oven heat to 180. Turn the eggplant over, drizzle with the eggplant marinade and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

5. Remove the tray from the oven once again. Place the pork fillet pieces evenly over the tray and drizzle with 1/2 of the marinading juices, reserving the final half for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and drizzle with the remaining half of the marinade.

Return the tray to the oven for a final 10 minutes or until the pork is cooked through and the eggplant are cooked and soft.

6. Turn off the oven and remove the One Tray Bake, placing it onto a wooden board or trivets for serving. Scatter with the remaining herbs and shallots, chilli, toasted sesame seeds and lime wedges.

Serve with basmati rice and eat!

WINE SUGGESTION

The spicy Asian flavours of this dish will work exceptionally well with a crisp Riesling or delish Gewurztraminer. Chill down a bottle of your favourite a few hours before dishing up this One Tray Bake and sip away!

We went with a Chardonnay with our feast, which goes a little against the old ‘pairing rules’ for spicy Asian food and wine. Surprisingly, it was a fab little match. If you’re a fan of the new world chardy’s, then I’d suggest trying one with this dish too.

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People who love to eat

are always the best people.

- Julia Child