My friend Abby once suggested that I add recipes from my time in Kazakhstan to my blog. “Everyone loves recipes,” she told me.
A popular potluck dish has been on my mind lately. Perhaps it’s because the omnipresent eggplant’s hit its prime.
This dish, called mother-in-law tongue, is from my colleague and friend Gulzhan, of “the best cook” fame in my book (At Home On the Kazakh Steppe).
I ate this dish often in Kazakhstan, but it wasn’t until Gulzhan visited me here in Vermont that I paid attention to how she made it. Here’s what it takes:
- An eggplant or two (depending on how many you want to make, naturally)
- Olive oil
It’s a bit time consuming to make, but well worth it if you like garlic and want to make an impression at a potluck buffet.
Slice the eggplant lengthwise, leaving on the skin. The thinner the slices, the better. I use a Mandolin (not the one with strings; the one with the sharp blade). Place the eggplant slices on a platter with a lip to hold the liquid.
Sprinkle salt over all. You’ll be rinsing it off before you cook, so you can be liberal. The salt will pull the liquid from the eggplant slices, so when you sauté them (step 5, see below) they’ll be crisper. Let the eggplant slices sit with the salt for “a while” in a dish.
Recipe alert. Gulzhan never measured. And she rarely had a written recipe.
Her dishes seemed to flow organically. Could that be happening here?
While the eggplant is dehydrating, mix mayonnaise and minced garlic to taste. Let it sit a bit so the flavors blend.
Drain the liquid that has gathered beneath the eggplant. Rinse the slices well and squeeze dry. I dab them with paper towels. This is not a step you want to skip.
Sauté the slices in a small amount of olive oil until brown on both sides.
Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels until cool. (This is an American addition to the recipe.)
When cool, place on a serving platter, spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise-garlic mix on top, add thinly sliced tomato and fold in half (better for finger-food).
They do look a bit tongue-like, don’t they?