11 August 2008

Hot and Sour Eggplant

For the opening ceremony of the Olympics last Friday we were invited to a friend's house for a Chinese-themed potluck. As I found out about the potluck part at two in the afternoon I frantically messaged my friend K* for some advice on what to make. I like Chinese food, but it's not something I really ever cook at home (very often anyway, there are some exceptions) and I was at a loss of what to make. K* sent a few recipe links my way, and the Hot and Sour Eggplant sounded intriguing and would also be a good way to use the two little eggplants sitting in the fridge. Since there would be more than 2 people at dinner, I headed to the store to pick up some additional eggplant and then came home to start cooking.

The recipe called for cutting the eggplant up and soaking it in salted water for half an hour, which is supposed to take away the bitterness. I did it with 4 off the 5 eggplants but forgot about the last one and it really didn't seem to make a difference. It might help with larger eggplants, but I think the tiny eggplants aren't bitter so don't need it. After drying off the eggplant cubes, I quickly fried them in a bit of oil. One of the keys to using less oil when frying eggplant is stirring it constantly for the first minute. This allows all the eggplant to get lightly coated in the oil, instead of the bottom pieces soaking it all up.

After browning the eggplant, a simple sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilies gets added (
I omitted the salt called for in the original recipe as I think that soy sauce is quite salty on its on and slightly reduced the amount of sugar called for) and is cooked until it thickens. That's it- it's really that easy. I really liked this preparation of eggplant, which is not something I can say about everything I've made with it. Stir-frying softens the eggplant without making it mushy and the sauce packs just enough heat to make it interesting and the sour vinegar taste adds an unexpected tang. The eggplant seemed to go over well with everyone else too, although I didn't think it could compete with the ma po tofu that another friend made. I don't think any of our humble dishes could compete with the real star of the night- the opening ceremonies, which were truly spectacular.

Hot and Sour Eggplant
Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Serves 8 as a side dish

2 lbs. eggplant, in 2cm cubes
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. sugar
1 little green chili pepper, cut into 4 pieces, seeds removed if desired
2 t. cornstarch
2 t. chili oil

- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. When oil starts to smoke, add eggplant, stirring constantly for the first minute to distribute the oil. Cook for a further 5-8 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and slightly browned.

- While the eggplant is cooking, mix remaining ingredients for the sauce. Once the eggplant is golden, add the sauce and stir until the sauce has thicken, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Keeps for a few days in the fridge too.


glamah16 said...

Im sure it was great. I actually prefer eggplant in Asian dishes. I had a really good one with fried tofu and spiced eggplant. Delish.

kat said...

what a fun way to celebrate the Opening Ceremonies.

Sue said...

I stopped salting my eggplant a long time ago. Now I actually peel the big ones even if you're not supposed to, and I find that cuts down on the bitterness. The little ones I peel kind of haphazardly, so they're kind of striped.

THAT was a great idea for a party and a really nice recipe.