Vietnamese Eggplant and Leek Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan. You can roast the veggies instead of grilling them. See notes.
- 2 medium eggplant about 1.5 pounds, sliced lengthwise ½ inch thick
- 2 leeks white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise
- 1 bunch scallions
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon siracha or other Asian chile paste
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 head boston or bibb lettuce leaves
- 2 cups cooked white rice
Set an indoor grill pan over a high flame or fire up a charcoal grill. Brush the eggplant with oil on both sides. Grill the eggplant in batches over high heat, rotating 90 degrees halfway through cooking, until soft and nicely charred, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat the grilling process with the leeks.
Trim the bottoms off the scallions, drizzle with oil, and grill until very wilted and nicely charred, about 2 minutes per side. Be careful not to let them slip through the grates.
While the veggies are grilling, combine the soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, and siracha in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
When the veggies are cool enough to touch, roughly chop them into 1 inch pieces. Add them to the soy mixture along with the cilantro and toss to combine.
Serve the eggplant-leek mixture alongside the lettuce leaves and rice and allow guests to serve themselves.
Variation: if you don’t have a grill, you can roast the veggies in the oven. Omit the scallions. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and turn out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until soft and deeply caramelized. Thinly slice the leeks and toss with another tablespoon of olive oil. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add leeks to the pan with the eggplant.