Braised Eggplant with Soy, Garlic and Ginger
You know that delicious, meltingly tender wonderfully flavorful Spicy Garlic Eggplant you get at Asian restaurants? Yeah, this is better (and better for you!) - and soooooo easy. Pair with dumplings and rice!
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
Our braised eggplant boasts a meltingly tender, creamy texture. We cut the eggplant into slim wedges, making sure that each piece had some skin attached to keep it from falling apart during cooking. Instead of treating the dish as a stir-fry, we braised the eggplant in a single batch. Once the eggplant was tender, we reduced the braising liquid to create a sauce.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Large globe and Italian eggplants disintegrate when braised, so do not substitute a single 1- to 1¼-pound eggplant here. You can substitute 1 to 1¼ pounds of long, slim Chinese or Japanese eggplants if they are available; cut them as directed. Chinese broad bean chili paste or sauce is also known as doubanjiang or, as the common brand Lee Kum Kee spells it, toban djan. This dish pairs nicely with rice and simply cooked chicken or pork, but you can omit the protein and serve it in larger portions as a vegetarian or vegan main course.
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Asian broad-bean chili paste
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 (8- to 10-ounce) globe or Italian eggplants
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
2 scallions, sliced thin on bias (optional)
Whisk water, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, chili paste, and cornstarch in medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Trim ½ inch from top and bottom of 1 eggplant. Halve eggplant crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise into 2 pieces. Cut each piece into ¾-inch-thick wedges. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Spread eggplant evenly in skillet (pieces will not form single layer). Pour rice wine mixture over eggplant. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to maintain gentle boil. Cover and cook until eggplant is soft and has decreased in volume enough to form single layer on bottom of skillet, about 15 minutes, gently shaking skillet to settle eggplant halfway through cooking (some pieces will remain opaque).
Uncover and continue to cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until liquid is thickened and reduced to just a few tablespoons, 12 to 14 minutes longer. Transfer to platter, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.
- I have not yet tried to increase the amount of this recipe. I suspect you could use slightly larger eggplants (in length, not width), and not need to increase the braising liquid volume too much. But if I were to, say, double this recipe, I'd want to increase the liquid volume too.