Eggplant Salad (version XIV)

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4 long chinese eggplants cut lengthwise into quarters
2 ounce agar-agar strips, optional or substitute shredded lettuce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
Hunan Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 green onions, finely minced
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon chinese hot chili oil
1/4 tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 teaspoon salt

Place the eggplant in a shallow heat-proof dish and steam over high heat for about 20 minutes or until tender. Test with a fork. Remove. When cooled, tear into thin strips or cut into a 1/2-inch cubes. Refrigerate.

In a bowl, cover the optional agar-agar with cold water for 10 seconds or until pliable. Drain, cut into 1-inch lengths and refrigerate.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together the vinaigrette ingredients. Taste for seasoning.

Arrange the agar-agar in a shallow platter. Toss the chilled eggplant with the vinaigrette and scatter over the agar-agar. Garnish with a sprig of coriander and the toasted sesame seeds.

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