Friday, November 7, 2014

Bok choy salad with sticky grilled eggplant, baby corn & miso garlic chicken

We spent last weekend in the Blue Mountains with friends (see pic at the end of this post), and had a great time going on long bushwalks through the gum trees then coming back to our Airbnb house to cook up a big meal over beers and old fashioneds. My friend Kate made the most amazing seared kangaroo salad on our first night-- check out her blog The Katechen for more delicious food outta Melbourne. We'll definitely be trying *roo salad* at home soon, but tonight we stuck to our favorite version of summer salad (marinated, grilled chicken thighs over an Asian-inspired base), topping it with sticky grilled eggplant slices inspired by Laura over at The First Mess.
baby bok choy salad topped with grilled sticky eggplant and baby corn
The basil and mint keep things tasting light, while the grilled eggplant and chicken make this dish go a long way to satisfy big appetites. If you can't easily source baby bok choy, any lettuce (romaine, oak leaf, etc) will do, or try a combo of thinly sliced Napa (Chinese) cabbage and purple cabbage. If you're cooking for vegetarians, just serve the grilled chicken separately, alongside the salad.
salad topped with miso garlic grilled chicken
These eggplant slices would also be delicious as a side on their own, or added to a burger/wrap situation. File this one away for the summer months, northern hemisphere mates. And a shout out to my little brother, whose birthday is today! Can't wait to toast the last year of your twenties with an old fashioned when we're back in the same country, bro. 
full of flavor: salad with grilled veg & chicken
Bok choy salad with sticky grilled eggplant, baby corn & miso garlic chicken
Serves 3-4

Bok choy salad
3 bunches baby bok choy, separated, washed, and thinly sliced
1/2 of a red bell pepper (capsicum), thinly sliced
4-5 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
small handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
large handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon reserved eggplant marinade (recipe below)

Toss the baby bok choy, bell pepper, mushrooms, mint, and basil together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved eggplant marinade with olive oil and mirin. Pour the marinade dressing over the salad, and toss to coat. Set aside to serve straight from the bowl, or transfer the salad to a flat serving plate to serve. 

Sticky grilled eggplant and baby corn (inspired by this recipe at The First Mess)
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1cm-wide slices
fat pinch of ground sea salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 of a brown or purple onion, thinly sliced 
big pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon mirin
handful of baby corn, sliced in half lengthwise

Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on a sheet of aluminum foil or a baking tray, and sprinkle with with sea salt on both sides. Leave the eggplant to sit while you make the marinade.

In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, ginger, onion, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by about half and is thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in the miso and mirin. Set aside one tablespoon of the marinade mixture to use in the bok choy salad dressing (see above). 

Generously brush the eggplant slices on one side with the marinade (you won't use all of it, save the remainder to use while you're grilling). Leave the eggplant to marinate while you prepare the chicken (eggplant needs only about 10 minutes to soak up the flavors of the marinade).

When you're ready to grill, heat an outdoor barbeque or an indoor stovetop grill to high heat. Brush the grill with oil. Place the eggplant slices, marinated side down, onto the grill, and immediately brush the tops with the remaining marinade mixture. Place the sliced baby corn on the grill, too. 

Grill the eggplant slices for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until char marks appear and eggplant softens. Toss the baby corn around on the grill every couple of minutes, removing after the corn begins to develop a little char, about 6-8 minutes total. Remove the eggplant and corn and set aside to cool for a few minutes before arranging them on top of the bok choy salad.  

Miso garlic chicken
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil (or toasted sesame oil if you have it)
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon miso
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

In a large glass or ceramic dish, mix the fish, sauce, oil, mirin, miso, and garlic. Place the chicken thighs into the mixture and turn them over a few times to coat evenly. Place the dish in the fridge for 15 minutes as you grill the eggplant (or, alternatively, marinate chicken, covered in the fridge, for up to 8 hours or overnight). 

Heat the grill (outdoor barbeque or indoor stovetop grill) to high heat. Add the chicken thighs, and grill for about 5-8 minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and juices run clear. 

Remove chicken from heat and allow to rest for a couple of minutes before slicing against the grain into thin slices. Arrange the chicken on top of the salad and grilled eggplant and baby corn, or serve the chicken on a separate platter alongside the salad. Enjoy!

view from one of the lookout points near Leura on our Blue Mountains bushwalk last weekend

1 comment:

  1. So nice! I will definetly be cracking this one out for summer barbecue times.


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