Steamed eggplant with sauce nero

Steamed eggplant with sauce nero

Best Kitchen Basics
Petrina Tinslay

This is a relatively fancy recipe, albeit quite simple if you show a commitment to the cause. For some it may seem pointless, so turn the page and read on.

Cooking is about taking an ingredient that extra step, to unlock the potential of the produce and exaggerate its beauty. As the master chef Pierre Gagnaire said, ‘Some chefs say they let the produce speak for itself. If you do little or nothing you end up with little or nothing.’ A pithy observation.


Quantity Ingredient

Steamed eggplant

Quantity Ingredient
200ml dark soy sauce
200ml sherry vinegar
400ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cold-pressed sesame oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large eggplant

Sauce nero

Quantity Ingredient
2 large eggplants
10ml sherry vinegar


  1. To make the sauce nero, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Blacken the whole eggplants directly over a high gas flame or by using a kitchen blowtorch until well charred all over and the eggplants start to collapse.
  3. Put the eggplants in a non-aluminium baking dish, cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the eggplants from the oven and put them, together with any juices from the dish, in a fine sieve. Allow to drain for 2–3 hours. Reserve the liquid that has dripped through.
  5. Remove the stems from the eggplants and purée the solids in a food processor until smooth.
  6. Preheat the oven to 70°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  7. Spread the eggplant purée over the lined baking trays and place in the oven overnight until dry and crispy.
  8. Once dry, blend the eggplant to a fine powder.
  9. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the reserved liquid to the boil with the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggplant powder then remove the pan from the heat.
  10. Use a hand-held blender to process the sauce until thickened. Adjust the seasoning if required. Set aside.
  11. To make the steamed eggplant, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, oils and garlic in a large bowl.
  12. Remove the stem of the eggplant, then peel and cut the eggplant into eight even wedges. Place on a steamer tray, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and steam for 15–20 minutes or until the eggplant has the softness of marshmallow.
  13. While still warm, add the eggplant to the marinade and leave overnight in the refrigerator to infuse.
  14. To serve, warm the eggplant in the marinade. Drain and spoon the sauce nero over the top.


  • This recipe makes a delicious appetiser or an accompaniment to rich, fatty cuts of meat or fish.
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