I thoroughly enjoy the idea of vegetables. I don't always enjoy eating them, but I think some of them are seriously delicious when prepared well. Asian eggplant is one of those vegetables that I find especially delicious when prepared well. It can be incredibly savory - umami if you will. I also find that it's hearty enough that I rarely miss meat when I'm eating eggplant, which is advantageous when you're trying to eat vegetarian once or twice a week. I could never forgo meat entirely, but roughly once a week I really like a huge serving of vegetables.
This recipe for Spicy Glazed Eggplant has been on my radar for a little while as quick and easy midweek vegetarian meal. When I say quick and easy I am ignoring the 45 minutes that the eggplant sits in a colander in the sink after you slice it and sprinkle it with salt. Ignoring that 45 minutes, the eggplant really only takes 10 minutes from start to finish - you really can't beat that. And it's tasty (although I think that calling it spicy is a misnomer because I didn't think it was spicy at all). Look at it this way. You can slice your eggplant and throw it in a colander right when you get home, then you can change into sweats and lounge on the couch, or go to spin class like I did this evening, and then come home and whip up a quick meal. Granted, you should stir the eggplant a few times while it's resting in the colander to ensure that the salt draws out the moisture evenly, but I won't tell if you won't. If you're feeling more ambitious you could serve this as a wonderful side dish to an Asian meal and prepare the main course and the rice while the eggplant sits in the colander. I think pork would make a wonderful accompaniment. No pressure though!
Recipe after the jump!
Spicy Glazed Eggplant
1 lb. Asian eggplants (about 4), trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger, peeled and finely grated (use a Microplane)
1/8 tsp Japanese seven-spice powder (sometimes labeled "shichimi togarashi"), or to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt and drain in a colander, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes.
Rinse eggplant under cold water and dry well, pressing out any excess moisture.
Stir together mirin, soy sauce, ginger, and seven-spice powder.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté eggplant until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in mirin mixture and cook, gently stirring and turning frequently, until sauce becomes a glaze and eggplant is browned and tender, about 1 minute.
Serve hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with chives.