Spicy Eggplant Recipe
This eggplant side dish is very easy to prepare. It's perfect if you want to cook Asian food for a vegetarian crowd. I sautéed Japanese eggplants in a hoisin sauce-based mixture for its caramel color and subtle sweetness. To this, I added several crunchy ingredients such as shredded bamboo and black fungus mushrooms (called nấm mèo in Vietnamese) to balance the soft texture of the eggplant.
It's important to add spiciness to the dish as the eggplant can be a little bland. I added sliced jalapenos, grated ginger and store-bought chile garlic sauce. The result is a combination of sweet, garlicky, spicy and savory.
Yields: 6 servings6 Japanese eggplants
5 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
1-½ teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon dried black fungus mushrooms
1 fresh bamboo shoot, shredded
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced
1-½ tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon wild flower honey (or any sweetener)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional), slightly dry toasted
Prepping the black mushrooms: Soak the black fungus mushrooms in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain all the liquid. Coarsely chop. Set aside.
Prepping the eggplants:
Cut the eggplants in quarters lengthwise. Cut each quarter into 3-inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes (this will get rid of the bitterness of the eggplant).
In a wok, heat the oil. Add the garlic. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the sliced shallots. Once they're fragrant, transfer to a plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the wok.
In the same wok, add the eggplant pieces. Ensure that the eggplant pieces are coated in oil. Toss and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the green onions, grated ginger, black mushrooms, bamboo and jalapeño pepper. Stir well. Season with the chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, honey and soy sauce. Add about ½ cup of water and cook until the sauce thickens. Once the water evaporates, check tenderness of the eggplants (add more water if not fully cooked).
Finish with the garlic and shallots. Toss well. Add cilantro. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Check seasoning (the saltiness from the soy sauce should be sufficient). Sprinkle with black pepper. Turn off the heat. Keep on the stove for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds (if used).
Garnish with more sprigs of cilantro.
Serve with nước chấm dipping sauce (if you like).
Eat with chopsticks!
You could also add water chestnuts or bean sprouts for more crunch, in addition to the bamboo and black fungus mushrooms.
You might also want to add 1 (6-ounce) can of lump crab meat. It's delicious.
You can use store-bought chili garlic sauce, such as the one from Lee Kum Kee. For a homemade version, check out the recipe of chili garlic sauce. It's called tướng ớt (click on link for the recipe), literally "spicy dipping sauce" in Vietnamese; it's ultra easy.
The addition of the sesame oil brings a nice fragrance to the dish.
All the ingredients can be found in most Asian markets.Published By: on September 15, 2011.