Roasted Eggplant “Jaeow”
Jaeow bong is a simple yet versatile dipping sauce that is very dear to me. As I was growing up, I remember the ladies who helped out at my family’s Thai restaurant would bring this Laotian roasted eggplant dip in to snack on as they worked. Some of them still help out the family business, and whenever they bring in this sweet, sour, funky goodness I can’t help but help myself to a few dips.
Traditionally the eggplant is fire-roasted, but if you’re someone who would rather not have open flames in your home, you can achieve the same result by broiling them in the oven. Just be sure to brush a layer of oil on the flesh before roasting them skin side up. The combination of sweetness from the eggplant goes perfectly with the fermented flavors of the shrimp paste and fish sauce. This dip can be enjoyed with Thai sticky rice, as a dip for fresh veggies, or honestly on its own!
Halve eggplant and brush oil to the flesh surface, then fire-roast or broil with skin side up until the skin becomes charred and flaky.
Char the red onion, jalapeno, and garlic on high heat.
In a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind together the charred aromatics along with fresh Thai chili and cilantro stems. Add coarse sugar and salt and continue mixing.
Separate the flesh of the roasted eggplant from the skin and add to the mortar and pestle. Add fish sauce, shrimp paste, and lime juice and mix together well. Add cilantro leaves before serving.