Phillip Searle

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 eggplants
2 blue swimmer crabs
100ml peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed - also 1 teaspoon chopped
ginger of equal weight as garlic, smashed - also 2 teaspoons chopped
100ml rice wine or dry sherry
2 tomatoes
cassia bark
4 star anise
600ml fish stock
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon soy-chilli paste
100ml rice wine
a splash of fish sauce
1 tablespoon black rice vinegar
small grating palm sugar
1 tablespoon spring onion cut into rounds
1 tablespoon chopped coriander100g unsalted butter

Method

Smoke 2 large glossy black eggplants by placing them whole in a firebox, or over coal, or over a naked gas flame.

Recognize they are cooked when they deflate and give under the finger.

If you are not confident, place them in a plastic bag and seal until they come to room temperature. Meticulously peel off the charred skin. They will roughly divide into segments. Set aside.

Take 2 large blue swimmer crabs fresh and raw.

With scissors and hands extract the flesh.

Wash any guts off the shell, also discard the gills.

Pound or cut the shells up, reserve the crab meat.

For the crab stock, get a heavy-bottomed saucepan, very hot.

Throw in 50ml of peanut oil, 2 cloves of smashed garlic, as much smashed ginger and all the shells.

At once, shake the pan vigorously and pour in 100ml of rice wine or dry sherry.

Place a lid on for a minute till steam has evaporated.

Add 2 roasted chopped tomatoes, an inch (2.5cm) of cassia bark and 4 star anises.

Add 500-600ml of chicken stock. Simmer 1/2 hour.

Strain whilst pressing to extract all liquid. Reserve.

To make the curry paste, put 50ml of peanut oil and a tablespoon of sesame oil in a saucepan with a teaspoon of chopped garlic and two teaspoons of chopped ginger.

Add a 1/2 teaspoon of soy/chilli paste. Cook this out until it changes colour.

Stir it while it cooks. Add 100ml of rice wine and a splash of fish sauce; a tablespoon of black rice vinegar and a small grating of palm sugar.

Cook the preparation until the liquid has evaporated. Reserve the paste

In a broad based pan put 2 tablespoons of the paste. Add the eggplant, enough stock to moisten the crab meat, a tablespoon of spring onion cut into rounds, a tablespoon of chopped coriander and 100g of unsalted butter.

Bring to the boil to liase the sauce. Divide between 4 plates.

NB Fish stock can also be used but chicken stock is better because its gelatinous quality makes a more glossy sauce with more body.

Smoked eggplant with crab sauce