Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce 辣椒醬煮茄子

I love eggplant. And this is a great Chinese preparation of it. There's something creamily satisfying about the eggplant...though that's probably the significant amounts of oil it absorbs as you stir-fry it.

I recently bought Grace Young's book, The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, and have started trying some recipes from it. My eggplant recipe is based off of hers, though I made it vegetarian, replacing ground pork with mushrooms, thickened the sauce, and a couple other changes.

The large, round, Western eggplants don't work so well for this dish because of their girth. While it probably doesn't matter too much, the long, thin Chinese eggplants (qie zi) can be cut into strips with each strip still having skin, while with the fatter Western ones, you'll probably have to make some skinless blocks.

I wonder how restaurants get it to stay a vibrant purple even after cooking. Maybe they parboil and cold-shock it first before stir-frying, if that makes a difference. 

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce 辣椒醬煮茄子

3 medium Chinese eggplants (about 1 lb.)

the sauce:
2 TBS chili garlic sauce
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS rice vinegar
2 TBS rice wine
1 TBS brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water

7 TBS vegetable oil (or other neutral flavored oil)

1/4 cup dried black or shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated (reserve soaking water), sliced thinly
2 TBS garlic, finely minced
2 TBS ginger, finely minced

starch slurry: 
1 TBS tapioca starch or cornstarch
2 TBS water

1/2 cup chopped scallions

  1. Trim eggplants and cut into 2.5-inch long by .5-inch thick strips.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  3. In another small bowl, starch slurry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 3 TBS oil and half the eggplant, and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until eggplant begins to brown and soften. Transfer eggplant to a plate and repeat with the rest of the eggplant, also setting the second batch of eggplant aside with the first.
  5. Add remaining 1 TBS oil, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry about 1 minute, until golden and fragrant.
  6. Add eggplant back into the wok, stir up the sauce mixture and pour in, and add reserved mushroom soaking water if needed to nearly cover the eggplant—but don’t use the last TBS or so of the soaking water as it will have debris at the bottom. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until eggplant is just tender.
  7. Give the starch slurry a stir so the particles aren’t all gathered at the bottom and pour into wok. Stir the ingredients to distribute the slurry and thicken the sauce.
  8. Turn off heat, stir in scallions, and serve.


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