food · recipes

Szechuan Eggplant


One year I had no clue what to get my sister (actually, this is every year) and finally decided on an asian food cookbook. In the cookbook contains my most favourite meal in the world so it turned out to be a great gift. Now if only I could do that every year…

Preparation takes about 20-30 min, depending on how slow you are. And probably takes around 20 min cooking time. Serves 4. It’s not as simple a recipe as the ones I’ve previously posted but it’s definitely worth it.

1kg eggplant, cut into 3cm cubes
1 tablespoon salt
vegetable oil
500g mince pork (chicken or beef is fine but pork is best)
2 teaspoons chopped ginger
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon spicy chili paste (also called hot bean paste). It’s a pretty key ingredient in the sauce so don’t leave it out
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (I’m sure normal soy sauce would be ok)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons brown vinegar
1 teaspoons sesame oil (not that important so if it’s not already in your cupboard then don’t bother)
bunch of spring onions
bunch of bok choy (or pak choy or spinach)
as many shiitake mushrooms as you like
optional extra: baby corn and carrot
rice

First up is to chop up your eggplant and salt it. So basically, put the eggplant cubes into a colander and mix in the salt. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Salting makes the eggplant less bitter and apparently also requires less oil for cooking. I tried making this dish without salting the eggplant and it wasn’t so great an idea so make sure you salt it.
While waiting, chop up everything else. After the 15 min, rinse out the eggplant, making sure that all the salt is gone.
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok and cook the eggplant until soft. You may want to put the rice on at this point, depending on how long it normally takes you to start cooking rice with your preferred method. Remove eggplant onto a plate with a paper towel (to remove some of the oil).
If needed, add some more oil to the wok. Brown the pork, making sure you break it up into little bits. Add ginger, garlic and spicy chili paste and cook for a little bit. Then add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Chuck in the mushroom and veggies (expect spring onions). Simmer it all until it’s all cooked.
Add the eggplant and cook for an extra minute. Add spring onions vinegar and sesame oil and stir well. Serve it on the rice.

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