Crispy Eggplant with XO Duck + Marcona Almond
This recipe was inspired by the deliciously complex and layered flavors of Pok Pok’s Thai Larb Salads (meat salads), Pok Pok NY closed pre covid but our cravings for spicy/sweet/sour/creamy/crunchy salads live on! Pre pandemic as wholesale cheesemongers most times when we went out to eat it was at one of our customers restaurants which meant French, Italian or New American, so we were constantly craving a change of pace on our day off which meant we wanted Asian or African. This version of the salad includes duck, but for vegetarians these Crispy Shiitakes make a great substitute!
1-2Lb - Eggplant
(Snake of Mugla, Rosa Bianca, Baby or Fairytale) If using fairytale or baby, simply destem and cut in half lengthwise, if using Snake of Mugla, cut in half lengthwise then cut the long halves into cut into 2 in sections) For Rosa Bianca or other traditional large egg shape breeds, cut in half lengthwise then cut into ¾ in thick half or ¼ moon slices.
2-3 Scallions (Minced)
½ Lime or Meyer Lemon Juice and Zest (Separated)
4 oz. Duck Rillette (at room temp)
¼ Cup - Marcona Almond Butter
¼ Cup - American Marconas (chopped)
½ Shallot (diced)
Cook the eggplant:
To start, add enough EVOO to cover the bottom of a large saucepan and heat on medium, once the pan is nice and hot (but not smoking) add your eggplant in a single layer, skin side down, it should sizzle but not pop. Cook on one side until nice and dark brown, 5-7min, then flip and season with salt, if the other side is all skin, cook until the skin has changed color (should be the same amount of time if not longer as the other side), 6-8 min. Don’t crowd the pan, you may need to do multiple batches adding more oil between each batch. Once both sides are fully cooked, lay on paper towels or a drying rack skin side up so they stay crunchy. Sprinkle with salt and controne pepper to season, you want them to be a bit spicy!
Duck Rillette XO:
In a small bowl, dress your shallots with fish sauce and a sprinkle of salt. Next, mix your shallots/fish sauce combo into your duck rillette(or shiitake if going that route) stirring to mix thoroughly.
Marcona Almond Sauce:
In another small bowl, combine marcona almond butter, chopped American Marconas, the juice from your lime or lemon and add add 1-2 tablespoons of evoo (just enough to make the consistency thin enough to be runny and drizzle-able - it won’t be truly drizzle-able because it will be so chunky), stir vigorously to emulsify and set aside.
When ready to eat, layer your eggplants on a platter, then spoon drop your duck rillette xo in sporadic small spoonfuls over top. Drizzle the marcona almond sauce over everything and garnish with a generous amount of scallions.
Enjoy hot or cold!