Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Tonight was a two for the price of one type deal.  A two-fer.  Since we made two distinct dishes, I figured each deserved its own post.
To go with our dumplings we needed some sort of Chinese side dish.  The first thing I pulled out of the fridge that seemed appropriate was the Japanese eggplant, so that was easy enough.  We didn't have any ground pork, so I couldn't make Fish Fragrant Eggplant from Fuschia Dunlop's Land of Plenty Sichuan cookbook (which really is much tastier than it sounds), but I found this recipe in The Shun Lee Cookbook, which seemed promising.  

Since I only had 2 eggplants left, I halved the recipe and had to play with it a bit to avoid what the cookbook calls "passing through."  Passing through is an important technique used in Sichuan cooking whereby an ingredient (usually a meat) is cooked very briefly in a pool of hot vegetable oil in a screaming hot wok before being removed from the wok.  To finish cooking the meat, almost all of the oil is poured from the wok and the remaining oil is used to create the sauce.  The meat is then thrown back into the wok, where it is stir-fried in the sauce.  And there you have "passing through."  As I mentioned in a previous post, I hate deep-frying things, and passing through is just another form of deep frying.  I just don't know what to do with all of the leftover oil!  Instead of cooking my eggplant that way, I quickly roasted it in the oven and then threw it in the wok with the sauce.  Granted, the texture would have been much silkier if I had just sucked it up and done the whole "passing through" bit, but what can you do?  The eggplant was still delicious.  If you want the real recipe with the instructions for "passing through" the eggplant, you can leave me a comment here and I will post it.

Recipe after the jump!

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Adapted from The Shun Lee Cookbook
By Michael Tong

4 small Japanese eggplants, trimmed
vegetable oil (for passing through)
1 scallion, white and green parts, trimmed and minced (1/2 tsp greens reserved for garnish)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp hot bean paste
1 tsp hot chili oil (optional)
1 tsp sesame oil   
2 tbsp soy
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cold water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Halve eggplants and chop into 1-inch cubes.  Toss in vegetable oil and sesame oil, s&p.  Place eggplant cubes in a single layer in a baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the soy, sugar, vinegar, rice wine, and white pepper in a small bowl.  Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water in another small bowl.  Heat a large wok over high heat.  Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil.  Once oil is hot, add the scallion, ginger and garlic.  Stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Add hot bean paste and the soy mixture.  Stir fry for 15 seconds.  Add the roasted eggplant.  Stir-fry until the sauce is boiling and the eggplant is hot and coated in the sauce, about 30 seconds.  Add cornstarch mixture and stir-fry until the sauce thickens, about 10 seconds.  Add the hot chili oil,stir-fry for 10 seconds, and then the sesame oil.

Garnish with sliced scallion greens.  Serve immediately.

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