Monday, July 20, 2009

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry

When I received Asian eggplant and Thai basil in my CSA bag this week, I thought I could probably pair the two together in an Asian dish. McHubby doesn't care much for eggplant, so when I found this recipe, I thought it might offer enough flavor that he would forget that it was in there. It worked! This is an easy recipe that comes together very quickly. Best of all, McHubby thought he was eating mushrooms instead of eggplant. He enjoyed this dish so much he said he wanted to have it again.

I couldn't find the red chile at the market, so I used a few dashes of crushed red pepper instead. For a vegetarian version, simply substitute vegetable stock for the chicken broth.

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry, Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli

5 Asian eggplants, about 2 pounds
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced on a diagonal
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh red chile, sliced
½ cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Thai basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cut the eggplants in ½ lengthwise and then slice crosswise into wedges, no more than 1-inch wide.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils; tilt the pan to coat all sides. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared and sticky, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter and cook the remaining eggplant in same manner, adding more oil, if needed.

After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the broth. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, until the sauce has thickened. Put the eggplant back in the pan, tossing quickly, until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with sesame seeds, Thai basil, and cilantro and serve.

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