I love aubergines in all forms and in any kind of dish. I was intrigued to see Gok Wan’s version of cooking the aubergine in his recent Cookbook. He braised them with pork and anchovies. The result is delicious and extremely easy to achieve.
The only thing, my dish didn’t look as good as Gok’s and looks like the pork mince rather than the aubergines was the star of the show. The aubergines literally melted and sank to the bottom, forming the most delicious base of this dish. It proved once again that you can’t judge something but its look.
BRAISED AUBERGINE WITH PORK
3 teaspoons groundnut oil
150g minced pork
4 anchovy fillets, drained and finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 aubergines, trimmed and chopped into 3cm dice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil
4 spring onions, sliced
- Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. When hot, add the minced pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes until the pork starts to brown at the edges.
- Add the anchovy fillets and garlic and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add the cubed aubergines and stir intermittently for the next 3–4 minutes, until the aubergines begin to brown and soften at the edges.
- Reduce the heat to medium, pour in both types of soy sauce and add half the water. Bring to the boil and put a lid on the wok. Simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes. It’s important to ensure the pan does not run dry, so keep checking and add more water, using the entire 200ml if necessary.
- Cook the aubergines down until they are virtually falling apart. At this point, stir in the sesame oil and remove to a plate. Sprinkle liberally with sliced spring onions and serve with rice.
I also chopped some coriander on top before serving,- I like the taste, but it’s also to brighten up the colour of very brown looking dish.
If you’ve seen the recent Nigella’s cooking series ‘Simply Nigella’, you will recognise this recipe. I liked it partly due to the back story and for the ingredients. She called it Old Rag Pie, but that’s the English interpretation for the Greek Patsavouropita, created by the bakery as a way of using up old scraps of filo pastry. Hence, the “old rags” indicated by the title.
Another reason why I absolutely adore this pie, is that it pretty much pleases everyone. It can be served with plenty of honey on top to satisfy anyone with the sweet tooth, or serve it without and it will be perfect for breakfast, as a snack or even as a starter.
OLD RAG PIE
(Recipe of Nigella Lawson, taken from here)
100g soft butter
1 x 270g packet frozen filo pastry, thawed
200-250g Feta cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
2 large eggs
150ml full-fat milk
1 tablespoons sesame seeds
good-quality clear honey to serve
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then take it off the heat.
- Line a 20cm square cake tin with a layer of filo pastry, making sure it comes up the sides; you will need to use more than one sheet. Then pour 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the pastry.
- Using one third of the remaining filo sheets, tear and scrunch the sheets up and drop them loosely in the tin. Then crumble in half the feta, sprinkle with just under ½ teaspoon of thyme leaves and pour a third of the remaining melted butter over the top.
- Repeat, so that you use up all but a little of the butter and a small amount of thyme. For the last layer, you can use larger pieces of filo “rags” (as it’s the lid), filling the tin a little more tightly, but still scrunching them.
- Fold the edges of overhanging filo over themselves, and pour the remaining butter on top. Using the sharp point of a knife, make 2 cuts down and 2 cuts across into the filo-packed tin, from edge to edge to create 9 sections. It’s important that you don’t use a blunt knife, as you don’t want to drag the filo or press down on it.
- Beat the eggs with the milk, then pour over the contents of the tin. Sprinkle the last bit of thyme along with the sesame seeds on top. Let it stand for at least 30 minutes in a cool place before baking. If 2 hours is easier for your timetable, then put it in the fridge. And you can do this in advance (see top recipe tips).
- Heat the oven to 200C/180C Fan, and bake the pie for 30 minutes. When it’s ready, the pastry will be golden-brown and puffed up, and the inside set. Let it stand for 10 minutes, then spoon 1 tablespoon of the honey over the top.
- Cut into slices or slabs – using a serrated bread knife and sawing action to prevent squishing the filo on top too much, then pushing the knife down to cut through. If you decided to serve it as a desert, pour the desired amount of honey on top of the pie directly in the tin. Alternatively, serve the pie as is with the honey on the table for people to add it if they wish.
….and soaked in honey slice