Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Gathering of Friends, with Chinese Eggplants

Yes, I spend a lot of time alone, but I mean human friends, not fruit and veg friends— I swear.

After last Friday's dinner was snowed out, I wasn't sure what I was going to make as a side for the rain date until the last minute. I knew it had to be Asian-themed to compliment Brendan's Pad Thai, so we went to H-Mart, and he Chinese eggplants at H-Mart were deep and luscious. They handily won out over the competition.

Chinese Eggplants in Chili Basil Sauce

  • 3 Chinese eggplants
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili basil paste
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp raw sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped (for garnish)

Chop Chinese eggplants into 3/4-inch pieces. Chop onion into slivers. Sauté the onion in oil until slightly translucent and fragrant, then add the eggplant and continue cooking until soft and slightly browned. Set onions and eggplant aside.

Over a medium heat, cook the garlic, ginger, and chili basil paste, then add the sugar, soy sauce and water. Add the onions and eggplant back into the frying pan, and continue cooking them in the sauce for 8-10 minutes.

When everything is cooked (and do taste pieces as you go), remove it from heat, add the sesame oil and continue stirring everything together. Garnish with basil and green onions and serve over rice. Makes 6 servings as a side dish.

If you really need to thicken the sauce, you can break the corn starch out of Food Prison, mix 1 tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp of warm water, and add to the sauce.

My friend Jeannine gave me a good tip for eggplant, too: coat the pieces in salt to wick out some of the bitterness (which is apparently more present in eggplants with brown in the middle), then rinsing and drying them before cooking.

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