A form of sipyan, this eggplant dish is so much easier to prepare because everything is combined in a skillet and left to cook on its own. Out of sheer habit, I scraped the bottom of the pan to make sure it wasn't sticking, but that was not necessary at all. Once the tomatoes cooked down, the cooking liquids covered the eggplant pieces which then stewed in the resulting juices. The bulk of the flavour and umami was imparted by a combination of peanuts, shrimp paste and dried shrimp powder.
Here are several options for vegans. To achieve umami flavour without using fish-/seafood-based sauces, would be to use mushroom sauce and dried shiitake mushrooms. Mushroom sauce is used by vegans to replace oyster sauce and the soaking liquid from dried shiitake mushrooms both impart strong umami flavour. More difficult to come by is dried konbu or kelp (seaweed) which is used to make konbu dashi. A third option would be to use Ajinomoto or MSG.
Serve this as a side over a mound of steamed rice, preferably coconut rice or Ohn Htamin.
6 oriental eggplants, cut in 2" lengths
2 medium onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp. dried chili powder
1 tsp. paprika or Kashmiri mirch
1/4 tsp. turmeric
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. shrimp paste
2 Tbsp. dried shrimp powder
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup simmering water
salt to taste
- Sprinkle salt over eggplants in a colander and set aside.
- Combine all ingredients, except cilantro, in a skillet and place over medium-high heat.
- Bring contents of skillet to a boil and add salted eggplant pieces.
- Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes or until oil surfaces.
- Adjust seasoning and remove from heat.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot, steamed rice.