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.
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”.
From here, the heat was reduced to medium and the flavors left to meld and supposedly penetrate the eggplants.
Now I could turn up the heat and reduce the sauce or add the last two ingredients.
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.