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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom (Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste)

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom 1

We're celebrating the EGGPLANT for this edition of Weekend Wokking, as chosen by last month's host, Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok.

I was washing my dishes and lost track of time so the eggplants became oversteamed and lost all their lovely purple color. I had made these before and simply pan-fried them instead of steaming and also pan-frying them, but I can't manage to find those photos.

Shrimp-stuffed eggplants can sometimes be found at dim sum restaurants. In my previous attempt, I was trying to recreate a similar version that my ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) had taught me long ago. I could have sworn all she had me do was pan-fry them, but when I did that, the shrimp paste wouldn't stick to the eggplant. So remembering how nicely the various veggies came out when I made Yong Tau Foo (Chinese Stuffed Tofu) because I steamed and pan-fried them, I did the same here.

You could certainly serve with a bean curd sauce like I did for the yong tau foo, but I was lazy and simply drizzled bottled sweet chili sauce on top.

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom 2

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom (Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste)

You'll need:
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced diagonally
Plan on about 3 to 4 shrimp per slice of eggplant
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of salt or a squirt of Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
Pinch of sugar

Japanese eggplants are the long version, with much less black mucous and bitterness than compared to the fat, big kind.

Chinese Eggplant Salad 1

Cut off the stem, then slice the eggplant diagonally. You actually don't have to salt these as they're not as bitter as the large eggplants, but I do so anyway. Lightly sprinkle them with salt and leave to drain in a colander.

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom 3

Count how many slices of eggplant you have and depending on the size, count out about 3 to 4 shrimp per slice. Peel and devein the shrimp. Mince in a food processor with 2 cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt or squirt of fish sauce, and a pinch of sugar.

Then rinse the eggplant slices and shake dry. Spoon the shrimp paste over the eggplant slices and lay them on a steamer tray.

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom 4

I used a bamboo steamer. The plain eggplant for Chinese Eggplant Salad was on the other layer.

Chinese Eggplant Salad 3

Steam for about 15 minutes until the shrimp paste turns pink. I oversteamed so the eggplant lost its color and was a bit softer than I prefer.

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom 5

Pan-fry until golden. Drizzle with sweet chili fish sauce. Or you could make the bean curd sauce in my recipe for Dau Hu Nhoi Cha Tom voi Sot Chao Ot (Vietnamese Shrimp Paste-Stuffed Tofu with Fermented Bean Curd Chili Sauce).

Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom 2


If you'd like to join in Weekend Wokking but don't know what to make, here's some of my other eggplant recipes:
Chinese Eggplant Salad
Gaeng Kiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplants)
Mam Nem (Vietnamese Fermented Anchovy Sauce) with Thai Eggplants
Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Italian Eggplant Parmesan)

I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. This month's secret ingredient is the EGGPLANT. The host this month is Marija of Palachinka. Check out her eggplant round-up for 12 eggplant recipe ideas. If you'd like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month.

1 year ago today, Bananas Frita (Cuban Fried Bananas).


  1. I've never had this dish, either at a dim sum place or otherwise. Looks quite good! And a good opportunity to try out my bamboo steamer. Yes, I'm waaaaay behind.

  2. This is my favorite dim sum dish!!! Looks so yummy! Nomnomnom >.<

  3. This is one of my favourite dishes and I always make it a request from my mom! I guess I could learn to make it myself... My mom's is a cheaper version - i think she uses pork with a bit of shrimp! And she makes a soy sauce to go with it. Hers is probably greasier than yours since she fries and doesn't steam. Interesting!

  4. I love this. Esp the fried version!

  5. since i dont want u to label me as i lurker, i guess i will start leaving u comments. you know, ive never had eggplants before, because it just looks gross, probably because its squishy and purple. but this looks really good. and i think id eat it!

  6. Hi WC! OMG, I can't believe it, I made some deep-fried eggplant 'sandwiches' with fish paste in between over the weekend! Just came over today and saw your steamed eggplant with shrimp paste..haha how coincidental is that?

    btw, looking yummy!

  7. Nikki,
    Haha. I can't figure out if you're way behind on the eggplant dish or acquiring a bamboo steamer. :P

    It's one of my favorites too.

    When I made it with my ba noi, she only had me fry it. But when I tried, it just wouldn't stick to the eggplant. Go figure.

    It's so bad that I love so many fried foods.

    I've got tons of lurkers. I don't mind. It's only when they bypass the commenter stage and go straight from lurker to overstepping their bounds that it becomes creepy. :P

    Great minds think alike! Hehe. I've never thought of putting this in a sandwich before.

  8. This looks great! I've recently developed a dislike for eggplant (don't know where it came from, because I've ALWAYS loved eggplant), but am slowly working myself back to eggplant-love. This looks like something that can ease me back. I love the combination of eggplant and shrimp paste.

  9. JS,
    That's so odd. Usually food that I used to hate or wasn't so used to eating, I've slowly learned to appreciate. I can't think of anything I used to like that I can't eat now.

  10. Thank you for letting me host this lovely event, and thanks for a lovely entry!

    Do you think I could use regular eggplant? There are no Japanese eggplants here.

  11. Marija,
    Thanks again for hosting such a lovely round-up. You can use regular eggplant, just slice them into smaller pieces.

  12. Hello,

    Made this disk for our party dinner this weekend and it was a great hit! Thanks


  13. Hi,

    I made this tonight and it was soooo delicious! Thank you for sharing all your great recipes! I posted and linked back to you. I hope that's okay. I also steamed mine for a big too long but this dish was so delicious, it tasted fabulous anyway. Just wanted to say thanks for posting these awesome recipes and I love your blog!

  14. Hai,
    That's great to hear!

    Kitchen Slave,
    Yay! I will have to link up your post. Mine were oversteamed too. That's why the purple in the eggplant is gone. :(


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