Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cooking the Book – Revolutionary Chinese Cooking – Spicy Eggplant Pot

One of the benefits of my Houston relatives visiting is the sheer quantity of food they bring with them. There’s char sui, duck and vegetables from the Chinese groceries not to mention a bounty of boudin balls from Tony’s Seafood in Baton Rouge. Of course most of this food is eaten during their visit, but one leftover was a few Chinese eggplants. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, so I turned to the ever useful Fuchsia Dunlop books.

Dunlop came through in the pinch with a recipe for Spicy Eggplant Pot or “Qie Zi Bao” in her book, “Revolutionary Chinese Cooking”. With recipe in hand, I started on the prep work.

First 2 dried shiitake mushrooms are soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes.

The recipe calls for 1 lb 7 oz of eggplants. I had about a pound on hand, but I went ahead with the recipe.

The eggplants were peeled, cut in half lengthwise and then across. Lastly they were cut into chunks, sprinkled with salt and left to drain for 30 minutes.

With the eggplant and mushrooms sitting, I was able to get everything else ready and soon I had the rest of the ingredients set for mise-en-place.

At the top we have 3 oz of ground pork, the salted, rinsed, and dried eggplant, then 2 scallions finely sliced, 2 tsp chopped garlic, 1 sliced chili, the rehydrated shiitakes finely chopped and lastly 2 tsp chopped ginger.

Now that everything was ready, I could start with the first step of cooking, frying.

The eggplant was fried in batches in 350 degree peanut oil until golden brown.

It didn’t take long, maybe 3 minutes at the most.

Deep frying done, all but 3 tbs of the oil was drained and the wok was put back on a high flame.

The 3 oz of pork was added and stir fried.

It wasn’t long before it separated and I was ready to add the chili bean paste.

2 tbsp of chili bean paste were added to the wok and fried until the oil turned red, or less than a minute.

The next ingredients in were the ginger, garlic, shiitakes, and chili.

I only cooked them until they were “fragrant”.

Once their aroma was evident, 2/3 cup of chicken stock and ½ tsp dark soy sauce went into the wok.

The eggplants were reintroduced to the wok right after I added the soy and stock.

From here, the heat was reduced to medium and the flavors left to meld and supposedly penetrate the eggplants.

Dunlop writes that you should salt to taste, and it seemed salty enough to me.

Now I could turn up the heat and reduce the sauce or add the last two ingredients.

I added the scallions and stirred them in.

It was only a few seconds before I turned everything out into my waiting bowl.

I realize this is supposed to be served in a clay pot, but this was the best I had on hand. Anyway, you can’t forget to stir in 1 tsp of sesame oil as the very last step. As you can see this was part of a great dinner of Spicy Eggplant Pot and Sichuan stir fried bean sprouts.

Over a little fresh rice, this eggplant was delicious. I have yet to find a recipe in a Dunlop book that I have disliked. Sure I’ve liked some more than others, but I might call her cookbooks my most indispensable. At the very least, I’m sure there will be more Dunlop recipes to come.

1 comment:

Yohan said...

So when are you inviting me over for dinner? Your Chinese dishes look incredible. I'm impressed--you really look like you know your way around a wok. I'm totally jealous that you have relatives from Houston who can bring you stuff we can't get around here.