Having established for myself that the secret to eggplant is to cook it to within an inch of its life, I decided it was time to test this theory with my new obsession and throw it into my wok. And guess what? It was absolutely fabulous. The soft silkiness of the eggplant was punctuated with the crisp green of the snow peas and onions, and the toasted walnuts added a different kind of earthy crunch that brought everything together, with a little sesame highlight at the end.
What inspired me to give this a try was that the Chinese eggplant looked fresh and firm at the store, and the regular eggplant not so much. Longer and thinner than its Italian counterpart, these just begged to be roll cut and stir fried. Another example of the benefits of going with what looks good rather than what you think you want. I had planned to get a regular eggplant for another braise, but these looked so much better that I changed my plan right there and then at the store. This one is a definite keeper.
Again, the secret is to make sure that the eggplant is well and truly cooked. If that means adding more water and cooking it longer, then it must be done. Be sure to taste it - don't just go by time or looks. If the eggplant is not well cooked, the dish will be ruined. Have I said this before? Good. I will keep saying it until I have converted everyone!
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes
STIR-FRIED CHINESE EGGPLANT AND SNOW PEASMakes 4 servings
3 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sherry
1/2 tsp garlic chili sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp peanut oil, separated
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
2 large Chinese eggplant, roll cut*
1/4 lb snow peas, trimmed
1/2 cups toasted chopped walnuts
4 green onions, whites and greens separated and sliced
1 tsp (approximately) toasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds for garnish
*to roll cut, place the eggplant on a cutting board and, holding the knife blade perpendicular to the board and cut straight down on the diagonal. Turn the eggplant one quarter and cut straight down on, again on the diagonal. Continue turning and cutting until you reach the other end of the eggplant.
Combine orange juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sherry and chili sauce in a small bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Mix well and set aside.
Heat wok until it smokes. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat another few seconds. Add garlic and ginger and let sit for a few seconds, then start to move it around with your cooking utensil. After about 30 seconds, add the eggplant and continue to stir. As soon as the garlic and ginger starts to brown, add about 1/4 cup of water around the edges of the wok, stirring constantly to pick up any garlic and ginger that has stuck to the bottom, and to keep the eggplant from sticking. Stir constantly for 2 or 3 more minutes, adding water as it evaporates. Add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, cover the wok, and let it cook for about 2 more minutes, checking every once in a while to make sure the water has not evaporated. Remove the lid and cook until the water evaporates. Push the eggplant up the sides of the wok and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then add the snow peas and stir them around in the oil, then incorporate the eggplant back into the base of the bowl. Cook for another 2 minutes, until the eggplant is tender. (You need to check the eggplant to make sure that it is fully cooked).
Add the orange juice mixture. When it starts to boil, add the cornstarch and stir until it thickens. Add the walnuts, the green onions and the cilantro (keeping a little of all three aside for garnish) and mix well. Remove from the heat and add the sesame oil.
Serve with brown rice. Garnish with the sesame seeds, cilantro, and green onion.
Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (www.mountain-software.com)