There is something greatly enjoyable about using my hands and eating straight from a single giant plate. Within that short moment, I always get a satisfying hit of pre-oral pleasure from actually feeling the texture and temperature of the food. I know I am sounding quite barbaric right now. However, believe me when I say, at a Burmese dining table, it is perfectly polite to eat with your hand, and people, including myself, usually do. Now that I am in the United States, where etiquette requires fine motor display of forks, spoons, and even knives, my opportunity to indulge a feast with my hands has been limited to Ethiopian restaurants, some sushi places (yes, a proper Japanese etiquette encourages the use your hand to eat your sushi) and my kitchen. Of course, you should follow the standard duration of Happy Birthday song to wash your hand thoroughly, before you touch the food. I would hate to receive death threats and legal liability from people getting diarrhea from following my advice on my blog.
But, the important question is what sort of food should we eat with our hands, especially in the Western culture? I would say toss the utensils for any meals requiring a decent amount assembly. Your guests will not only find the meal more enjoyable but also the whole evening a lot more relaxed. If your guests end up demand me the utensils, I really hope they are doing this solely for legitimate medical reasons. Otherwise, save some dish detergent and lock away your utensils.
When serving a single-plate-no-utensil meal, I want the presentation to be rustic enough to fuel our primeval urges yet elegant enough that it tantalizes us to dive in right away. This steak and eggplant wrap is the perfect single-tray dish. Eggplant is easily my favorite vegetable. When thinly sliced and flash-fried, they turn into velvety yet rustic good eats. On top of those green-tinted eggplant slices, I crumbled goat cheese to give extra lusciousness and mellow tanginess. Just when you think the soft eggplant and creamy goat cheese may not be indulgent enough, the recipe further calls for piling of sliced jade-colored avocado. Then, comes the main actor – scattering of sliced perfectly cooked medium-rare steak and their juices on top of eggplant slices. In mere minutes, the sponge-like eggplant wedges drink up those lovely dressings. As a final touch, I sprinkle a combination of cilantro, lemon slices and scallions to amp-up the freshness of the dish.
Do you know the feeling when you are around your crush, all your senses become subconsciously consumed by that person? Well, I am not exaggerating when I say I feel exactly that when I bite into the herb-speckled eggplants filled with the steak, goat cheese, and avocado. I may look uncivilized eating this dish with my hand, but I can assure you my mouth feels like a royal.
- 1 medium-sized eggplant (sliced about ½ cm thick)
- ½ cup of garlic-flavored oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 avocado
- 1 lbs. of flank steak
- 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 3 oz. of goat cheese (can be more or less)
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 2 green chili (finely chopped)
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 teaspoon of brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cilantro and scallion for garnish
- Marinade the steak with garlic and soy sauce for at least 30 minutes.
- While the meat is marinating, heat up the cast iron skillet on high heat. Soak the eggplant slices quickly in the garlic-infused oil, and drop them in the hot iron skillet. Make sure you are not crowding the pan. Otherwise, the eggplant will not get that lovely charred flavor. It will take about 2 minutes on each side.
- Drain the eggplant slices completely on a bunch of paper towels.
- Cook the steak until medium-rare. Slather the meat with some oil, and grill it on a cast iron skillet. It should take about 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Wrap the meat in an aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to redistribute inside. In the mean time, prepare a dressing for the meat by combining lemon juice, chopped chili, fish sauce and sugar.
- Now, slice the meat thinly. I ended up accidentally slicing mine quite thick. Toss the meat in the dressing. Let the meat sit in the dressing for about 3-5 minutes.
- Now lay the eggplant slices on a wide flat plate. Pour down the meat slices and dressing on top. Crumble in cheese and avocado slices. Sprinkle with scallion and cilantro.