The Washington Post

Grilled Eggplant Salad

Grilled Eggplant Salad 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Jul 19, 2020

Grill slender Asian eggplants until they are charred on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside and they become the perfect canvas on which to paint a colorful combination of flavors and textures. In Southeast Asia, long, thin, light green eggplants are the most common variety, and are the best choice for this recipe thanks to their lack of bitterness. In the West, purple Japanese eggplants are more available and will also work well.

Where to Buy: Slender eggplant can be found at Asian markets.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot (2 ounces), thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 6 long, green Thai or purple Japanese eggplants (no substitutes; 2 to 2 1/2 pounds total), halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Cooked jasmine rice, for serving


Line a small plate with a paper towel or clean dish towel. In a small frying pan, combine the oil and shallots, place over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are crisp and golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to the towel-lined plate and let cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the oil for brushing on the eggplant, and save the rest for another use.

Prepare a grill (preferably charcoal) for a direct fire over medium heat (350 to 400 degrees). If using a charcoal grill without a built-in thermometer, medium heat means you should be able to hold your hand five inches above the cooking grate for 5 to 7 seconds.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a 1-quart saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and cornstarch then place over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm. Stir in the lime juice, sugar and salt, then taste and add more salt, if needed. Aim for a dressing that’s equally sour, sweet and salty.

When the grill is ready, brush the eggplant with the 1 tablespoon reserved shallot oil and grill the eggplant all over, flipping them as needed, until charred and a fork slid into the flesh meets no resistance, about 15 to 20 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board.

When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut them crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Swoosh the dressing on the bottom of a platter and arrange the eggplant on top. Sprinkle with the crisp shallots, followed by the pepper flakes, cashews and cilantro. Sprinkle the mint leaves over the top. Serve with the rice.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill” by Leela Punyaratabandhu (Ten Speed Press, 2020).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 6): 299

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 22g 34%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 137mg 6%

Total Carbohydrates: 20g 7%

Dietary Fiber: 6g 24%

Sugar: 6g

Protein: 5g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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