After almost seven months in Cambodia, I have eaten a lot of rice. A lot. There are also those other things I eat, you know, that go with the rice. Since I ‘uht jeh nyam saik’ (don’t know how to eat meat), it involves a lot of fish and sometimes some veggies. For example, one of my favorite finds – fried eggplant.
First, you grill the eggplants whole over a charcoal fire. Burn the heck out of em. No really. I want charred, black eggplants here. When you think they are probably done, cook them some more, just for good measure. When you’re done, you’ll have some soggy, droopy eggplants.
Once you’ve got the charred skins off and have burned your fingers in the meantime on the scalding hot liquid inside, cut up the eggplants into some smaller pieces and throw them in a pan. Add some oil, oyster sauce, a little fish sauce, and a spoonful of sugar (this is Cambodian food here, come on, there is sugar in everything). Give it a good old cha (fry) and add some meat if you must. Throw a few scallions on the top for color and voila.
I know it looks kind of like bad applesauce, but this stuff is actually pretty yummy. My students think it’s funny I like it so much because it’s really cheap and simple food. And there is a distinct lack of fermented fish. But I’ll take it.