Steamed Aubergine with Smoky Lime and Fish Sauce

Like Tim, we are a huge fan of Thai salads including yum makhua yao (a grilled aubergine salad). Tim’s clever microwave version from his latest cookbook, Microwave Meals is simple to make, fragrant with herbs and dressed in a deliciously bright and punchy sauce. Instead of charring the aubergine to achieve the dish’s characteristic smoky flavours, Tim cunningly calls on smoked paprika to bring that charred flavour note, and it really works! Served cold, this is ideal for summer but can be enjoyed all year round.

Steamed Aubergine with Smoky Lime and Fish Sauce

Read our full review of Tim Anderson’s Microwave Meals.

Steamed Aubergine with Smoky Lime and Fish Sauce
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5 from 1 vote

Steamed Aubergine Salad with Smoky Lime and Fish Sauce Dressing

One of my favourite Thai dishes is yum makhua yao, or smoky aubergine (eggplant) salad. Traditionally, the aubergine gets its smokiness from charring over flames, which of course we cannot do in the microwave. (If your microwave is capable of flamegrilling, please return it to the manufacturer.) However, we can achieve the same soft and squishy texture by microwave steaming, and add the smoky flavour in the form of paprika – not traditional, of course, but neither is cooking this in the microwave. This recipe is informed primarily by John Chantarasak’s version from his excellent book Kin Thai – please do check it out if you haven’t already.
Servings 2
Author Tim Anderson


Section 1

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bird’s eye or similar small, hot chilli, very thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove,very thinly sliced

Section 2

  • 1 aubergine (eggplant)

Section 3

  • 1 shallot or ½ banana shallot,very thinly sliced with the grain
  • 2 small tomatoes,quartered
  • generous handfuls of mint and coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 1 fresh lime leaf, very, very, very thinly sliced (optional)
  • a few crispy shallots (optional)


  • 1 microwave
  • clingfilm (plastic wrap)


  • Stir everything together until the sugar dissolves. This is best made at least an hour in advance to allow the flavours to mingle.
  • Cut the aubergine into quarters lengthways, so you have four long baton-shaped pieces. Bundle these pieces up and wrap them in cling film (plastic wrap), then cook for 4–6 minutes, turning the bundle once during cooking. The aubergines should be totally soft, so if there are any firm bits, keep cooking for 1–2 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill (this will take at least an hour).
  • To serve, unwrap the chilled aubergines (from section 2) and lay on a plate. Scatter over the raw shallots, tomatoes and fresh herbs, then pour over the dressing (from section 1) and top with a few crispy shallots (if using).

Home cooked Steamed Aubergine with Smoky Lime and Fish Sauce Home cooked Steamed Aubergine with Smoky Lime and Fish Sauce, served with fried eggs

You can find more cookbooks and recipes from Tim Anderson here.

You may also like my recipe for Easy Microwave Salted Caramels.


Kavey Eats received a review copy of Microwave Meals by Tim Anderson from publisher Hardie Grant. Recipe and images from the book reproduced courtesy of publisher. Home cooked images by Kavita Favelle. 

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