Vietnamese Grilled Eggplant with Scallion Oil (Ca Tim Nuong Mo Hanh) is a rustic Southern dish. Whole eggplants are grilled until charred and served with fragrant scallion oil, fish sauce dressing and roasted peanuts.
What is Ca Tim Nuong Mo Hanh
Cà tím nướng mỡ hành is a quick and easy Southern Vietnamese eggplant dish, which can be served as a fun appetizer or side dish. I like how light it is while still having a lot of different flavors and textures.
Whole eggplants are grilled until charred on the outside and sweet and creamy on the inside. A generous drizzle of the traditional lime fish sauce dressing (nuoc cham) will add saltiness, sweetness, and sourness. The scallion oil adds aroma and some richness. Finally, top the dish with a sprinkle of roasted peanuts for some crunch.
Watch the Cooking Steps
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To make ca tim nuong mo hanh, first you will need some Asian eggplants. They are long and slender with a thin purple skin and a delicate sweet flavor. You can find them at Asian grocery stores.
🌿 Scallion Oil
The scallion oil requires just two ingredients, scallion and oil. Neutral-flavored oil is often recommended here. As for me, I like to use light olive oil to make it.
🥜 Fish Sauce Dressing and Roasted Peanuts
For the dressing, you will need fish sauce, sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. I also add minced garlic and bird’s-eye chili for extra flavor and heat. If you want to keep the dish vegan, you can use salt in the dressing instead of fish sauce.
How to Make Vietnamese Eggplant with Scallion Oil
1️⃣ Grilling the whole eggplants
Grilling is a great way to cook whole eggplants because it is easy and adds a nice charred taste to the eggplants. I use my Staub grill pan to cook them and I’m sure an outdoor grill will also work.
If you don’t have a grill pan or an outdoor grill, you can roast them in the oven. This method will take longer to cook and there won’t be a charred taste. However, I have tried it and the dish still turns out tasty.
Before grilling or roasting whole eggplants, poke a few holes around them to prevent bursting during the cooking process. Grill until the skin is charred and there is no resistance when you insert a chopstick or fork into the eggplants. The inside should be really soft and creamy.
2️⃣ Prepare the dressing/sauce and scallion oil
There are two quick ways to make the scallion oil:
- Heat the oil until it is hot, then add chopped scallion to the hot oil. Stir and cook very briefly.
- Heat the oil until it is hot, then pour the hot oil over chopped scallion. Stir well.
Both ways are quick and easy with the same result. Just make sure the oil should be hot enough so that once added, the scallion would sizzle immediately.
How to Serve Vietnamese Grilled Whole Eggplant
Before serving ca tim nuong mo hanh, you will need to peel and discard the skin. I like to slice the eggplants into bite-sized pieces as in the video to make it easier to eat. Some people like to leave them whole when serving and that also works. If leaving them whole, you can run a fork along the peeled eggplant to separate the flesh into strips. The flesh will absorb the dressing/sauce more that way.
Next, simply drizzle as much dressing and scallion oil as you want and sprinkle roasted peanuts generously on top. This is how you make this rustic and humble Vietnamese grilled eggplant dish flavorful and fun to eat.
Vietnamese grilled whole eggplant is very light. When I want to make it more substantial to be a main dish, I will stir-fry some ground pork with minced shallot, garlic and fish sauce. The sautéed ground meat will then be an additional topping on the eggplants.
In the photo above, the eggplants were roasted in the oven. I left them whole and topped with ground pork, scallion oil, dressing and peanuts.
Note: the post was originally posted on September 5th, 2019. It has been updated with a revised recipe, new photos and video in August, 2022. Below are the old photos in the original post.
Some other eggplant recipes on the blog:
Other easy grilling recipes to try:
⭐️ I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Vietnamese Grilled Eggplant with Scallion Oil
- 2 Asian eggplants (about 21 oz / 600g)
For the dressing/sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 – 1½ teaspoons lime juice
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 bird's-eye chili, seeds removed and minced (optional)
For the scallion oil
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (light olive oil or neutral-flavored oil)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup thinly-sliced scallions, green parts only (about 6-8 stalks or 30g)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, lightly crushed (about 45g)
- Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Use a toothpick or chopstick to poke a few holes around the eggplants. Place them on the grill and grill until the outside is charred and the inside is very soft and creamy, about 30-40 minutes. Rotate every 10 minutes for even charring.
- When the eggplants are almost ready (about 5 minutes to go), combine all ingredients to make the dressing in a bowl. Taste and adjust to your liking, it should be on the salty-sweet side.
- Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and wait until it is hot. Drop a piece of sliced scallion into the oil and if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Add the remaining scallions together with the salt. Stir and cook for a few seconds until fragrant and scallions are soft.
- Transfer cooked eggplants to a clean cutting board and peel off the skin. Be careful since they can be very hot. You can slice the eggplants into bite-sized pieces or leave them whole and run a fork along them to separate the flesh into strips.
- Place eggplants on serving plates. Drizzle dressing, scallion oil and sprinkle roasted peanuts on top. Serve right away.