Cambodian Roasted Eggplant and Pork plus a Giveaway!

by formerchef on November 1, 2010

Post image for Cambodian Roasted Eggplant and Pork plus a Giveaway!

There are certain combinations of flavors which are considered classic and always paired together; chocolate and peanut butter, tomatoes and basil, or tequila and lime. For me, eggplant and pork have always been a favorite. It’s not uncommon to see this pair across many different cuisines; it’s common in Chinese stir-frys, Thai curries, Italian pork stuffed eggplant, and Latin American stews. One of the first recipes I put on this blog was a pasta with eggplant and pancetta.

We saw eggplant and pork frequently on menus in Cambodia and ordered it often. It can be found everywhere from street stalls to high-end Khmer restaurants. As many times as we ordered it, each verson was different; sometimes the pork was ground and other times it was sliced. Most of the time the eggplant was roasted, but occasionally it was cubed.

This dish is my take on the Cambodian Roasted Eggplant with Pork. I prefer roasting the eggplant to get that smokey flavor infused into the dish and I like the soft texture against the meatiness of the pork. I used ground pork from the whole pig we bought and I encourage you to try and find pasture raised pork if possible. I have been nothing but impressed with the flavor of this pork on every cut we’ve tried so far. This dish may not win any awards for “most beautiful”  (and it was quite difficult to photograph) but the taste is certainly an award winner.

Giveaway!
Update: Congratulations to Katharine, Comment #3, on winning the giveaway!
I brought back some goodies all the way from Cambodia to give away to one faithful reader. Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite flavor combinations are, or what you like to make with eggplant. I’ll choose a winner at random from one of the comments and announce it on November 6th. Shipping to US addresses only.

The lucky winner will recieve:

  • Assorted Cambodian spices in little woven containers (Amok spice, Curry Spice and Cambodian White Pepper)
  • Chop sticks made out of palm wood with woven holders
  • Two packages of hand made palm sugar
  • 500 Cambodian Riel (worth about 12 cents, but it has Angkor Wat on it!)
  • A 100% cotton, authentic hand woven, krama (this is a multipurose, typical scarf every Cambodian owns, both men and women. It comes from a small village where only 3 of this type per day are made on a hand looms).
Roasted Eggplant with Pork Recipe
 
1.5 lbs eggplant
2 tsp canola (or other neutral oil)
8 oz ground pork
2 tsp garlic,  minced
2-3 ea Thai red chilies, sliced
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar, chopped (or brown sugar)
2 ea green onion, sliced
2 tsp soy sauce (gluten free if needed)

steamed rice for two

Many of these ingredients can be found in Asian grocery stores. Fish sauce is also called Nam Pla or Nuoc Nam and on its own can be very pungent but as an ingredient adds a depth of flavor that is noticeably missing without it. Palm sugar and the tiny red chilies are also available in Asian markets, but if you can’t find them you can substitute brown sugar and a different spicy chile.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat the eggplants in the oil and put on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the outside is slightly charred, the skin is wrinkled and the inside is soft. The eggplant can also be roasted on an outdoor BBQ, whole for the same results.
Allow the eggplant to cool to the touch and peel off the skin. Roughly chop or break apart the roasted eggplant (it should be very soft) and set aside.

2. Heat a large wok or saute pan. Add the ground pork and cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the sliced chilies and cook with the pork for another 2 minutes.

3.  Add the eggplant and combine gently with the pork. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce. Cook for two more minutes and at the end toss in most of the green onion, reserving some for garnishing the plate. Serve with steamed rice.

Serves 2 as a main course.

If you want to see more food and travel sites make sure you check out Wanderfood Wednesdays on Wanderlust and Lipstick.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KevinQ November 1, 2010 at 6:18 am

Ooh, that looks tasty.

My all-time favorite flavor combination, of the moment, is lime, cilantro, and red pepper. Made a mango salad last night, and the smell of the dressing (lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, red pepper flakes, minced garlic and onion) made me want to eat it all immediately. It’s also tasty in larb.

K

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2 Angrboda November 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

I know I’m not eligible for the contest, but I want to tell you my favourite anyway. :)

I have a weakness for salmon and spinach. I like to bake the fish in flaky pastry along with spinach and mushrooms and whatever else I happen to have that sounds fun. But there is ALWAYS spinach involved. I don’t eat it, I nom it. :)

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3 Katharine November 1, 2010 at 9:09 am

I don’t know if I can pick just one flavor combo. But I’ve been intrigued recently with tomato and ginger together. As in green tomato chutney, for instance. Generally I like spicy and sweet together! Yum.

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4 Gabriella November 1, 2010 at 9:51 am

My favorite is kale pesto. Its so good you can even use it as a dip with crackers or crostini, or mix with pasta. Either way it has always been a hit at parties. I just blanch the kale, let it cool and blend it with garlic, parmesan cheese, EVOO, nuts (I prefer walnuts), and salt and pepper. I once took it to a party as a dip and one person actually liked the bowl.
I LOVE your website and recipes.

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5 Myra November 1, 2010 at 9:57 am

I love onion & celery, basil & garlic, honey & soy sauce, Brewers yeast and salt (especially on popcorn) and I’ll never be disappointed with chocolate combined with peanut butter, coconut or mint. :-)

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6 McCall Humes November 1, 2010 at 10:17 am

I’m not much of a cook but I try. And I live vicariously through blogs like yours. The one thing I love to make with eggplant is super easy and super delicious. I make open faced roasted veggie sandwiches on focaccia bread. I toast the bread, spread on garlic mayonnaise and top it with roasted eggplant, squash, zucchini and feta cheese. yummy.

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7 Charlene November 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

My favorite flavor combinations right now is cumin, lime, smoked paprika and cayenne. I add them to melted butter and slather it on grilled corn. It is so wonderful.
Thanks for the chance to enter – Enjoy your week!

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8 Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen November 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I love sweet and salty combinations – a weird favorite has always been cheese and chocolate…As for eggplant, I love a good eggplant parm!

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9 Danielle November 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm

One of my favorite flavor combos is soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Those three together (with some oil) make my favorite steak marinade. So simple but so delicious!

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10 Nive November 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Interesting giveaway…thank you..I usually broil the eggplant, peel off the skin, puree it , saute in olive oil with some indian spices (turmeric, cumin, and pepper) and eat it….

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11 Charles G Thompson November 1, 2010 at 9:25 pm

One flavor combo that comes to mind is tart and sweet — papaya with a squeeze of lime. But I also love all the amazing flavor combos in Indian, and other Asian dishes.

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12 Kate November 2, 2010 at 8:31 am

I am a total sucker for a good baba ghanoush. But eggplant rollatini is also a weakness…

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13 Chef Gwen November 2, 2010 at 8:57 am

I don’t cook with eggplant at home (Mr. hates it) but I ordered it often when eating out. Favorite flavor combinations? Too many! You know I’ve been doing exotic smoothies, right? So I’ve had opportunity to experiment with lots of different flavors. One of my favorites was a recent one: cherries, lavender and pink peppercorns. I’ve never tasted anything like it before. I’ll be doing that one again and again, I’m sure. By the way, your story is lovely, and the pork and eggplant dish looks great.

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14 Lan November 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

i recently made a lovely cambodian soup of rice porridge that was made in lemongrass & ginger chicken broth, it was divine. i’ve always enjoyed the freshness of ginger against the tang of lemongrass. as for eggplant, my mom used to stirfry it in a bit of chili and fish sauce when i was kid and i loved it.

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15 Xuan November 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I really like eggplant stir fried with tofu and fermented black beans. My ultimate favorite is the little round Thai eggplants that you dip raw into this fermented shrimp paste (Kapi)…smells like hell, tastes like heaven.

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16 Michelle A November 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm

One of my favorite eggplant recipes is my mom’s tortang talong, a Filipino dish made with Japanese eggplant, minced pork, and eggs. I usually add a sprinkle of patis (fish sauce) and eat it with garlic fried rice.

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17 Mara November 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I will absolutely be trying this dish! Thank you so much for sharing it – being a farmer, I am always trying to get my customers to love and cook with eggplant; one of our most favorite crops to grow and eat. I usually eat eggplant roasted into disks on top of homemade pizza, or in Asian dishes as well. One of the ways I use it is in a Szechuan recipe I inherited from my mom. I did a blogpost about it with the recipe if you want to add this one to your eggplant repertoire! http://halfpintfarm.com/recipe/favorite-all-time-recipes-1-szechuan-chicken/ Another favorite flavor combination of mine is fresh marjoram and ripe fresh tomatoes!

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18 Danielle November 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Taiwanese-style chili garlic eggplant is DIVINE. I am still searching for a good recipe to replicate it. The one you posted definitely seems similar and something I would really enjoy. Thanks!

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19 Debi Lander November 3, 2010 at 2:43 am

Never tried roasting eggplants but will give it a go. Thanks for the inspiration

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20 Nicole November 3, 2010 at 7:06 am

I most often have eggplant in baba ghanouj, but I love it stir fried in Asian recipes too. Yours looks delicious. :)

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21 Margo November 3, 2010 at 8:10 am

I love to make eggplant caviar and my favorite spice combo is anise and cumin on sweet potatoes. I’m going to give this dish a try this week it looks so yummy!

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22 Melanie November 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

One of my favorite recipes that uses eggplant is Moroccan Chicken with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Almonds. Your recipe looks delicious!

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23 Arrows Sent Forth November 3, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Your recipe looks delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever tried a pork/eggplant dish, and clearly I’m missing out. What a great combo. My current favorite flavor pair is lime and cilantro.

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24 Sarah E November 4, 2010 at 5:10 am

You can never go wrong with eggplant Parmesan. My boyfriend loves it!

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25 Vivian November 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

Yum! I love eggplant and stirfry is my preferred method to cook almost anything :-) What a thoughtful giveaway! Spices from other countries always intrigue me and I would love to win those.

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26 TANYA R November 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm

My all time favorite flavor combinations are: lime, cilantro & salt. I can do so much with them and they have fantastic flavor when brought all together! THANKS SO MUCH!

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27 Lorna/Cruisinred November 5, 2010 at 11:56 am

Hi Christina–

I’ve always enjoyed your trip reports via the Fodors Asia forum. And I just love your food blog! I’m going to try making the pork/eggplant dish this weekend.
I’d love to have the pepper from Cambodia!

Keep up the yummy postings!

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28 Kairu November 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I love the combination of eggplant and pork! I don’t always add pork, but I often cook cubed eggplant with lots of finely minced garlic and a few splashes of soy sauce. I add a little water to the pan and cover it, so the eggplant steams and soaks up all the flavors.

I grew up cooking with a lot of garlic, ginger, and scallions, often with soy sauce and sometimes with rice wine. These flavors went into stir-fries, braises, marinades for broiled or roasted meats, and steamed fish. I find them comforting.

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29 Elodie Jane Amora June 30, 2011 at 5:15 am

this is a great recipe! I’ve made something like this before, but will try to make this too! thanks for sharing! :)

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30 Michaella October 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Sounds delicious! We’ve been getting 3 eggplants every week for about a month now and I’ve run out of ideas. This is on the menu tomorrow night. Some of my favorite flavor combinations are carrots with mapple syrup, and pumpkin with nutmeg. And as always, oreos with milk!

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31 Susan Kauffman September 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for sharing one of my favorite Cambodian dishes! I lived in Cambodia 6.5 years and have fond memories of the food.

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