To be fair this is actually eggplant sans the clay pot. You can use a clay pot if you have one otherwise any other heavy based pot will do instead. This version is a bit different from the type that you get in Vietnam - I've added the glass noodles because I love them (and that's a good enough reason as far as I'm concerned) and I added the bok choy as well. Neither of these things would appear in the traditional dish but I like to add them so that this becomes a complete one pot meal - and a very quick one at that.
2 small eggplants or 4 skinny Asian eggplants
1/2 cup oil for frying
4 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1x 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
1x 4cm piece fresh lemon grass
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp mushroom sauce
Cracked black pepper
2x 100g cakes of died glass vermicelli noodles (also known as bean thread noodles)
1 bunch baby bok choy
1. Combine the oil for frying with 2 tbsp of the sesame oil and heat in a wok. Slice the eggplant into long strips and fry in batches until soft and browned. You will need to replenish the oil a bit with each batch as the eggplant really soaks it up.
2. Heat a small saucepan of boiling water beside the wok as you are frying. As each batch of eggplant is ready transfer the pieces into the boiling water for about a minute and then remove with tongs or a slotted spoon into a bowl. (This is done to remove some of the oil that the eggplant has soaked up so that you don't eat it all - makes it a bit healthier)
3. Grate the ginger and garlic very finely. Peel the thick outer layer off the lemongrass and finely mince the inner section. Combine the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cracked pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, mushroom sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1/3 cup of warm water in a bowl and mix well.
4. Pour this marinade over the eggplant and marinate for about 30 minutes:
5. Line the bottom of your "clay pot" with the bok choy
6. Add the glass noodles
7. Place the eggplant slices on top. Mix the marinade left at the bottom of the bowl with 2 cups boiling hot water and pour over the eggplant and noodles.
8. Put a lid on the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes and then remove from the heat. Let stand for a minute and then sprinkle with chopped coriander and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve.