Cold Eggplants with Spicy Chinese Peanut Dressing
* 4 small Italian or Japanese eggplants (10 ounces), about 6 inches long
For the sauce:
* 4 teaspoons freshly made peanut butter from a health food shop or 4 tablespoons roasted peanuts ground to a paste in a clean coffee grinder
* 3 teaspoons soy sauce
* 4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
* 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
* 1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili paste with soybean or chili paste with garlic, optional
* 1/2 teaspoon very finely chopped ginger
* 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
Quarter the eggplants lengthwise and then cut them crosswise into 3-inch segments. Steam over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the sauce, except the cilantro leaves, in a bowl and mix well.
When the eggplants are tender, gently lift them out and arrange them neatly in a single layer on a large platter. Stir the sauce. Pour the sauce evenly over the eggplants. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the top and serve at room temperature or chilled.
SERVES 2 TO 4