Friday, July 30, 2010



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saucy Szechuan Eggplant (or not eggplant, as you like!)

So, no luck finding a recipe like the delicious Graceful Vegetarian eggplant hot pot.. yet.. I won't give up! It's too yummy to only be able to have it when I go out to eat, which is rarely!

I did come up with a recipe that is similarly saucy, and although it doesn't come anywhere near replicating the one I was looking for, it satisfied my eggplant craving for now. I'll share it with you - let me know if you try it out!
Saucy Szechuan Eggplant (any way you like it)
  • 1 large eggplant (or 2 baby eggplants, or 3 Japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones) - about 2 cups), quartered lengthwise and sliced to 1/2" thick
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup green beans, topped, tailed and cut to 2"
  • cooking oil
  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 bouillon cube (I used vegetable, you could use chicken or beef)
  • 2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tamari (or add an extra Tbsp of soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp chili-garlic paste (or 1 tsp hot sauce, or more, or less to your taste)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger (or 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger in desperate times)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
First, add the boiling water to your bouillon cube in a medium bowl to give it a chance to dissolve. You can add the wet sauce ingredients (soy sauce, tamari, chili-garlic paste, minced ginger if using) to this as well. Combine the dry sauce ingredients in a small bowl (brown sugar, corn starch, ground ginger if using). Set both bowls aside.

Heat about 1 Tbsp oil at medium heat in a skillet (or wok) and add the eggplant, cooking on both sides until golden (I did this in batches, adding more oil as needed). Set aside on paper towels. Toss the red pepper and green beans in and quickly saute for a couple minutes until the red peppers have softened slightly. Set aside with the eggplant.

Stir your bouillon mixture, and add it to your skillet. Add the dry sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sauce begins to boil and thickens. Add in the cooked vegetables and heat through.

Serve over rice and garnish with chopped green onion. Yum!

Options (always options!):
  • Add in or substitute any other vegetables you like, eg broccoli florets, zucchini, baby corn, baby bok choi, etc.
  • If you have a Chinese grocery store near you, you can pick up prepared deep-fried tofu in the refrigerator aisle. Give it a quick saute before the eggplant, drain on paper towels, and add in with the vegetables. I have been trying to cut back on soy (phytoestrogens), but I confess an abiding love for deep-fried tofu. That combination of chewy/crispy outside with the soft and juicy inside just makes me swoon.
  • Carnivorous? Stir-fried chicken or beef strips would be nice in this.
  • This would be great on noodles, too, instead of rice. Ramen style noodles are super quick to make, and you can throw them in the pan with the sauce and veg for a mixed dish, or serve over top of these or cooked soba noodles, for example. Even spaghetti noodles would do in a pinch.

Looking for a recipe...

...for eggplant hot pot. We recently ate at one of my all-time favourite restaurants, the Graceful Vegetarian in Markham. If you are ever near the Pacific Mall, make SURE to stop in at the Graceful Vegetarian right there in the plaza by Curry's for a meal - they have the most amazing, guilt-free food. Lots of 'mock' meats (duck, chicken, ham & pork, beef, even shark!) if you're craving protein (or traveling with carnivores).

We shared fried vegetable dumplings, veggie tempura, rice, and an eggplant hot pot that was to die for. I could have eaten the whole thing myself (and it's a big dish!). I would LOVE to figure out how to cook eggplant like that. It's not peanutty, or sesame-y. I can't even begin to guess what's in there. It's so delicious. Can anyone help me out with a fantastic saucy Chinese eggplant recipe?

I am a fan of eggplant in any form, but I think the Chinese have it down. Of course, Babu (also in Markham, on Weldon north of 16th, I think) does a fantastic Tamil version of eggplant that is sweet and so spicy you'll cry (but you won't want to stop eating it).

Can anyone tell I'm hungry and I have two baby eggplants in the fridge waiting for a recipe?