The Eggplant Thing

Q.  Hot dogs are to Chileans as…
a.)  Fish are to water.
b.)  Hands are to gloves.
c.)  Hoodies are to Justin Bieber.
d.)  Hot dogs are to Americans.

A.  All of the above.

Last night the boys decided on hot dogs, which is something we do fairly often.  The first summer I went to Chile, my siblings-in-law suggested hot dogs for dinner.  Up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever seen my then-boyfriend at the time actually eat a hot dog.  I guess we always just did sandwiches, because those are easy to “vegetarianize” (since this was long before my vegan days).

I was deflated at the thought of hot dogs, because that could only mean that I’d have a bun with some pickle relish and mustard, right?  I quickly changed my tune.  Think New York hot dog cart goodness, on steroids.  It was a tamer version of this:  

*This is also a guilty pleasure when I visit–little German restaurants where they serve up
beauties like this one, which they customized for me. There were no vegetarian-friendly options on the menu!

Remember when I learned to make guacamole?  I’m pretty sure it was that very night.

We literally built our dogs, from the freshly toasted bread up.  A word, if I may, about the bread.  These were not standard American hot dog buns.  They were somewhere between that and a perfectly crusty hoagie bun, the vegetarian version smothered in mustard, mayo and ketchup, cheese, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, and sauerkraut.  Whaaaaaaaaat?  The ultimate creation, and I’m not even sure that soy burgers and dogs existed in Chile at the time, not that I needed them!

These days, I make vegan versions of the above, loading up on the guacamole and withholding the cheese and mayo.  On occasion, I’ll get the vegan Tofurky spicy sausages, but I typically just do without, not that I’m missing anything!  The last few times we’ve done this, I’ve used a tofu scramble, but I’m out of tofu.  And avocado.  I was nearly ready to just finish off the rest of my millet when suddenly, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, the hot dog king says, “So you’re going to make the eggplant thing?”  And I blush, bat my eyelashes, and see the little cartoon hearts popping up all around him, because he is my hero.

So here and now, just for you, is the “eggplant thing.”

Some time ago, I started playing around with the eggplant bacon that I’d been reading about here and there.  I never have all the ingredients for any one recipe, but I liked the sound of Choosing Raw‘s eggplant bacon.  Only I don’t ever have liquid smoke, maple syrup, or a dehydrator, for that matter!  I rarely think ahead far enough to marinate anything for an hour, so what I do is simple.  I slice, spice, and fry those suckers!

Once again, I used Japanese eggplant, sliced them thinly and sprinkled sea salt, garlic and pepper over them.  Then I poured a little olive oil and tamari over them, and then a few splashes of cider vinegar.  Fry them.  Add your favorite delicacies.  Enjoy.  Those are my standards.  (Basically, it’s the tofu scramble, except for with eggplant, minus the nooch.)  I imagine the dehydrated version tastes pretty different, because, I’ll be honest, the fried ones are your typical slimy eggplant.  Only they taste good.  Give them a try and report back!  I sliced extra and left them in the marinade, so they should fly off the charts when I make them again!

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