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The Vibrant: Garden Eggs with Crushed Peanuts, Red Chilies & Cilantro

by on October 15, 2013
 

This recipe takes me back to where it all began – Nigeria. Where garden eggs are eaten as a snack, with a spicy peanut butter dip. In this recipe, the garden egg is sliced and garnished with grilled spring onions and red chilies, for colour. It is sprinkled with a dry peanut ‘crunch’ and drizzled with a peanut butter sauce. To finish? Cilantro. It makes for a vibrant and tasty dish with many dimensions and complementary flavours.

The very first idea I had of making a dish with garden eggs was this salad.

Not in the clearly defined way it appears now.

My idea was to de-construct the traditional Nigerian recipe of garden eggs and peanut butter and make it more colourful than just slices of garden eggs, drizzled with a tan peanut sauce.

I wanted something with nice nutty flavours, as well as texture. I also thought herbs like cilantro would add a different dimension. To accomplish this, I added some Thai elements, with a dash of fish sauce; some Chinese flavours with soy sauce and sesame oil, and very Nigerian elements which go in the regular peanut butter dip: Calabash nutmeg, some grains of paradise and dried red chiles.

Peanut dressed garden egg salad

What do you call it? Part Nigeria, part Thai. Or Fusion, if you want to call it that.

Garden Egg Salad with Crushed Peanuts, Red Chilies & Cilantro

Serves 1 as a meal, or 2 as a side

Ingredients
Main Salad vegetables
1 spring onion, split into half, lengthways
2 red fresh chilies, whole
1 – 2 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
6 small garden eggs
A handful of cilantro, chopped (or any other herb you fancy)
Peanut Dressing
2 teaspoons peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
4 – 6 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons (light) soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3-4 drops of sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, grains of paradise
Grating of nutmeg: regular or 1 Calabash nutmeg (used in Nigerian peppersoup)
Peanut Topping, inspired by Lady and Pups
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons brown sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried, ground chili pepper, or to taste
Salt, to taste

Preparation

Prepare Vegetables

Heat up a grill pan on the stovetop. Lightly grease once hot. Place the spring onions and red chilies and allow  to ‘grill’ on low – medium heat for a few minutes each side, till some grill marks form. Remove from heat and set aside to cool down.

Grilled vegetables

Once cool enough to handle, slice the spring onions, set aside white and green, purely for presentation sake. De-seed the red chilies carefully, using gloves if you aren’t familiar with handling them. Slice into strips and then chop up finely. Ensure you wash your hands after handling them.

Tutorial: How to de-seed chilies

Prepare a bowl of water  – a teaspoon of salt to 3 cups room temperature water. Slice the garden eggs and place them in the water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This will keep them from browning.

Make Peanut Dressing

Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar and heat on medium in the microwave. Be sure to check every 30 seconds. Stir & shake, and adjust to taste.

Alternatively, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on low. Whisk to combine.

In either case, the sauce is ready when it has a dripping consistency.

Make Peanut Topping

Spices
In a mortar and pestle or food processor, combine all the ingredients and process till just crushed. The aim is not to make peanut butter but to create a ‘crunchy’ topping.

Peanut topping

Salad Assembly

Remove the garden egg slices from the ‘salty water’, gently squeezing out the excess water.

Mise en Place for garden egg salad

Layer slices in a small plate.

Garden Egg slices

Top with spring onions…..

Assembly of garden egg salad

…chopped red chili,

Assembly of garden egg salad

…and crunchy peanut topping.

Assembly of garden egg salad

Garnish with chopped cilantro (or other herbs).

Assembly of garden egg salad

Finish with the peanut butter dressing, to taste.

Drizzling peanut dressing on garden egg salad

Dig in and feast!

Halfway through garden egg salad

Verdict

I loved how I could pace myself with the amount of garden eggs I took with each mouthful. It was also nice to ensure each slice had a good proportion of peanut dressing. The cilantro was nice – fresh, peculiar, and the chili added just the right level of heat and lots of colour.

This was the salad I dreamt of.

And this brings me almost to the end of my exploration with garden eggs.

I hope to do a round-up of the recipes I’ve posted and others I’ll try in the future.

Thanks for reading.