Braised Eggplant 红烧茄子 (hóngshāo qiézi)
This is my favorite Chinese dish. It is vegetarian and extremely flavorful. You can adjust the spiciness by changing the amount of crushed pepper. Actually, this dish is even better the next day, when all the flavors have drenched the eggplant and tomatoes.
- 1 large eggplant (aka aubergine)
- 2 large tomatoes
- 4 spring onions
- 4 clove garlic
- 1 piece fresh ginger
- 1-1½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- If you use Italian eggplant, peel the eggplant, and cut the eggplant in thick slices (about 1-1.5 inch). Carve shallow diagonal lines on both sides of each slice with a sharp knife. Then, cut them in large chunks. You can sprinkle salt on the slices and soak them for a while, or you can quickly dunk them in boiling water (about 4-5 minutes). If you use Chinese eggplant, which is generally longer, thinner, and has a lighter (purple) color, you can skip these steps and simply chop the eggplant into large chunks.
- Wash the tomatoes and cut them in large chunks, about the same size as the eggplant.
- Chop the spring onions in .5 inch long pieces. You can use the whole spring onion. Finely chop the garlic, the ginger, and the red pepper, if you use whole dried red peppers. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, (rice wine) vinegar, garlic, ginger, spring onions, red pepper, and add the sugar. Stir well.
- Heat a wok or large skillet until the pan just starts to smoke. Carefully add a generous amount of oil. Add the eggplant and stirfry for about 3-5 minutes, or until the eggplant starts to brown, and return a lot of the oil to the pan. (BE CAREFUL: if you have cooked the eggplant in water first, be careful when adding the eggplant as it may splatter.
- When the eggplant is thoroughly cooked and tender, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- Without cleaning the pan, add the sauce until it starts to bubble, and add the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes start to get tender (about 2-3 minutes) and then add the eggplant.
- Stir well and simmer for a while. The longer you simmer, the more flavor the eggplant will get. Be careful that enough fluid remains in the pan.
- Serve with rice or noodles, and chopsticks, of course!
Substitutions & Alternatives[br] [br]As you will see in the pictures, I made some small adjustments this time based on what I had lying around in the fridge. Instead of spring onions, I used regular onions, and I finished some pearl tomatoes I had left. I also added some tofu that needed to go. You see, lots of room to wiggle with this recipe, and it is always delicious!