Bitter eggplant – a delicacy from the mountains and forests

In the Central Highlands forest fields, it is easy to see patches of herbs, about 1 meter tall, with smooth stems, lance-shaped leaves, and light purple flowers, which is the bitter egg plant – one of the familiar foods in the people’s cuisine. Kon Tum ethnic minority. Bitter eggplants grow in patches along hills and stream banks. The fruits are as small as eggplants or oblong fruits, larger than a knuckle, dark green, with white stripes along the fruit. In the past, bitter eggplants were plants that grew wild when people returned home from the fields and conveniently picked a few fruits to prepare for meals. Later, bitter eggplant became more and more popular, so people brought it home to plant in their gardens. The fruit became larger, light green in color, the bitter taste was slightly reduced, easier to eat and suitable for many people’s tastes.

29.3.1Grilled meat with bitter eggplant

The simple way to prepare and preserve the delicious taste of bitter eggplant is to salt the bitter eggplant. Choose young eggplants, wash them, place them on a cutting board, use a large, thick knife to smash them once, the whole eggplant will be crushed in half, then soak in cold water for a while before taking it out and draining it. Crush the green chili, mix it with eggplant, monosodium glutamate, and salt, then continue to lightly pound it to absorb, so you have a simple cup of bitter eggplant salt to eat with white rice. The spicy taste of the chili creates a unique taste. strange, making the meal very “wasteful”. This dish is often made early in the morning and then brought to the fields to eat with cold rice, or stored for days away in the forest. Eggplants can be stored by cutting them into pieces, drying them, and hanging them on the kitchen rack for later use; Before cooking, soak the eggplant in water for about 5-10 minutes, the eggplant will soften and the bitter taste will not go away. Roasted bitter eggplants have a special delicious taste. Choose fruit that is at the “cakey” stage, the skin of the eggplant is round and fatty, and the seeds turn golden in color, then they will be fragrant when grilled. With just a few small pieces of dry firewood and a blazing fire, people quickly cut bitter eggplants into thin slices, skewered them and placed them on the grill. Just a moment later, the eggplant begins to turn dark brown and has a spreading aroma, stimulating the sense of smell. You have to watch so that the eggplant is just cooked, still retains a bit of bitter juice, is a bit chewy, soft and soft. Dipping with wild salt and pepper or eating with grilled wild meat is also very delicious. At first, the bitter taste of eggplant may make you frown and feel uncomfortable, but in return the aroma and taste have a very strong grip on your taste buds, so you want to taste the second, third,… Gradually Feel the “happy” sweetness that lingers on the tip of your tongue, then crush the “bitter eggplant” without even realizing it.

29.3.2Bitter eggplant cooked with stuffed fish

The way to prepare bitter eggplant is very diverse, it can be cooked with seafood such as shrimp, fish, frog, eel or cooked with wild meat from deer, porcupine, wild boar, sometimes cooked into bitter eggplant soup. If cooking with seafood, there must be a lot of green chili and chopped lolot leaves, so the eggplant will have the full flavor. People often prepare it simply by pre-processing the seafood, then adding bitter eggplant and green chili to cook, adding a little water, seasoning with MSG and salt. Boil the wood for about 10 minutes until the meat and eggplant are cooked. Use a large spoon to puree the bitter eggplant until smooth. Cook for a while longer, then add the lolot leaves and cook into a slightly thick soup. Have you ever tried frog with bitter eggplant, eel with bitter eggplant, fish cooked with eggplant,… Chew slowly, you will clearly feel the fatty taste of the meat, the bitter taste of the eggplant, the fleshy taste of the lolot leaves, in harmony. makes the dish so delicious. Eating a piece of bitter eggplant, hearing the spicy taste rush up your nose, then the sweet taste soaked in bitterness, it’s like truly “touching” the characteristics of Central Highlands cuisine. In the past, people often ate this soup alone, but now it can be eaten with vermicelli or banh hoi which is very convenient while still maintaining the delicious and attractive taste.

29.3.3Frog with bitter eggplant

As for cooking with wild meat dishes, they usually cook a little drier, and do not rub the bitter eggplant to puree it, but leave it intact and in one piece. Porcupine meat, wild boar meat, muntjac meat, etc., cut into bite-sized pieces, marinate with a little salt, then add wild pepper, k’tem leaves, and green chili. Then put the skewers on each stick, add a piece of thinly sliced ​​eggplant to each piece of meat, and place each stick on the grill.

Bitter tomatoes, eaten raw or cooked, have a very delicious and unique flavor unlike any other food. From a traditional dish of ethnic minorities, bitter eggplant has now become a specialty dish and is easily found in many restaurants in Kon Tum. The menu of dishes made from bitter eggplant is increasingly rich and diverse, suitable for the tastes of many diners. Many people also believe that this dish can cure many diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and stimulate good digestion. Bitter eggplant, a rustic dish like the people of the sunny and windy Northern Central Highlands, bitter eggplant – but the sweet aftertaste remains forever, like the innocence in the soul of every person here./.

Ha Oanh

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