Monday, September 24, 2012

Chinese Eggplant

The end of summer in Florida is the least productive for garden vegetables.  The only local items at the market are peppers, okra, pumpkins, persimmons, and eggplant.  There are so many different ways to prepare eggplant, however, that it can seem as though you're eating a different dish every time.  Here's one of my favorites.  It's easy to make, and tastes even better than the eggplant in Chinese restaurants.

1/4 cup sesame seeds
10 Asian eggplants (4 pounds), skin on, cut into one-inch cubes, 
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 inches peeled ginger, minced
1 or 2 hot peppers, minced
8 scallions, minced
1 cup mild white wine, or water
7 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch, stirred into 1/4 cup water
Fresh basil or cilantro

     Heat a large skillet or wok.  Add sesame seeds and stir until fragrant and lightly toasted.  Set aside.
     Add  one-third of the peanut and sesame oils to the skillet and raise the heat--then stir-fry 1/3 of the eggplant until soft, sticky, and lightly browned.  Remove from pan to a serving dish, and repeat the process, 1/3 at a time, with the remaining eggplant.  Salt and pepper the eggplant.
     After the eggplant is done, add to the hot skillet the ginger, peppers and scallions, stirring for a minute or two.  Then add the wine or water, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and cornstarch mixture.  Stir until thickened, adding more water or cornstarch mixture to make the consistency sauce-like.
     Return the eggplant to the pan.  Sprinkle with basil or cilantro, then with toasted sesame seeds.   Serve over brown jasmine rice.  Sliced oranges make a good side.  Serves 4-6.

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