You can either fry, roast or grill the aubergine. If roasted or grilled, the skin should be stripped off afterward and tossed away, and a Lao cook would pound the flesh to a paste (like babaganoush). Anything melting in the aubergine department is temple food for me, and - just-like-a-prayer - this’ll take you there. Monks love it too.
Wrap the shrimp paste in a small square of foil, squashing it flat, then toast in a dry hot pan for a few minutes. Pound the toasted shrimp paste with the garlic, shallots and chillies until pasty, then fry in
Cut the aubergines into long round sections - if using regular aubergines cut them into quarters lengthways and then into shorter lengths - and deep-fry in a wok in a generous pool of oil until just cooked through (or roast). To retain their purple-skinned colour, make sure the aubergines are kept dunked while frying. Drain, then serve spooned with the sauce (or put it into dipping bowls), and rain with the ground shrimp and the herby bits.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.