An Elegant Savory or Sweet Beauty I was perusing my old recipe trove and a forgot this gem from the 90s. So simple and versatile to gather and bake. SAVORY RECIPE INGREDIENTS: Tofu needs to be soft or silken varieties … Continue reading Corn & Tofu Soufflé
As a curious cook and unrequited lover of eggplant, I search for ways to master this textural oddity. Most efforts provided a suitable dish, but I never truly like the mushy texture most recipes yield. Other than eggplant parmesan, I have been underwhelmed until I came across this thousands-year-old Chinese method. It goes against reason, but braising for 30 minutes, eggplant becomes silken and flavored by the marinade, which then gets cooked down into a sauce. I have succeeded with other marinades and am happy to share these two beauties.
Choose Asian eggplants, they provide the best shape and are almost seedless.
The key to success is slice them to provide the most skin per slice [see below]. Then, once in the pan, do not move them through the whole braising time, as they are easily bruised.
Chinese and Italian Versions
The result is a saucy velvety dish served over rice or noodles
L: Served over Pad Thai Noodles R: Served over Wheat Noodles with Bratwurst and Gomasio
Chinese Braised Eggplant Serves 3-4
INGREDIENTS: Chili bean paste* is a Chinese spicy paste that can be substituted with hot sauce, harissa, gochujang, or other spicy condiment, as this dish is balanced for some heat.
eggplants – 2, large Asian, sliced
garlic – 2 tsp, minced
ginger – 1 TBS, minced
oil – 3 TBS, neutral
Chinese wine – 1/4 cup, [Shaoxing], or dry sherry
water – 2 cups
soy sauce – 2 TBS
sugar – 1 tsp
potato starch – 1 TBS, [or corn starch]
chili bean paste* – 1 to 3 tsp., [to taste] or other spicy spice you might have
scallions, minced [or Thai basil]
toasted sesame oil – just a drizzle
Slice the eggplants into thirds across the diameter, then stand up and slice in half, then lay back down and slice into thirds as shown. This yields about 3-inch planks, perfect for braising
Prepare the garlic, and ginger
Make the sauce
Choose the largest skillet you have so the eggplant will braise in a single layer
Heat the skillet and add the oil, garlic, and ginger; sauté for a minute
Lay in the eggplant and pour in the sauce
Cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer for 15 minutes.
Uncover and turn heat up to medium to produce a good simmer and reduce sauce until thickened, about 13-15 more minutes. If needed, gently shake the skillet to sauce the top of the eggplant at this point
Garnish with scallions and toasted sesame oil, and serve over rice or noodles
ADDITION: Meat or cooked beans can make this a main course
To expand this into a meaty dish, sauté 8 oz. of ground pork, beef, or poultry at step 5, then remove the meat to be added back at step 8