A quick and easy meatless stir fry made with eggplant, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.
I love Szechuan style food. The combination of spicy and sweet with lots of ginger and garlic is so good. I first had Szechuan eggplant as Chinese delivery and have been trying to duplicate it at home since.
All Szechuan style food is tasty but there is something about the eggplant that I love. The eggplant is cut into 1 inch strips with the peel left on and, when it's cooked, has a wonderful texture. It gets soft and mushy but the peel holds it together and adds more of a meaty texture. Also eggplant is relatively inexpensive. I can get all the eggplant for this recipe (for 2) for about $2. It makes a great meatless meal where you won't even miss the meat.
Here is my recipe, a combination of many online recipes and trial and error. I think it's pretty good, and can be made vegetarian by omitting the, optional, oyster sauce.
1 Thumb sized piece of ginger, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
6-8 small Thai bird chillies or other chilli, minced (about 1 tsp, or to taste)
5 medium Japanese eggplants (about 2 lbs), cut into 1 inch strips
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 - 1 cup water
2 tsp sirracha or other chilli sauce, optional
I like to prepare all of my ingredients before I begin cooking this will be stir fried at a high temperature and things go fast.
Heat a wok or large saute pan, with 1 Tbsp oil (veg, peanut, or canola), over medium high heat until the oil starts to glisten. Fry 1/2 of the eggplant (I add a little salt while cooking, but the main saltyness will come from the soy sauce) until browned on the out side and soft in the middle (they should spit and sputter as soon as they hit the oil). This should take about 5-8 minutes. Remove first batch of eggplant and do the same with the second. I do it in two batches because I want all of the eggplant pieces to come into contact with the pan so that they brown nicely.
Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside. Add the onion to the pan (with more oil) cook for about a minute then add garlic, ginger, and peppers. Stir around until fragrant. Add the eggplant back in, lower heat to low and add the sauces and sugar.
Stir to mix thoroughly, and let sauce reduce a little. I like to have a good sauce with my eggplant, so add extra water as necessary. I cracked some Szechuan peppercorns over top, but this is not a must, I like to add them because I have them but if you don't have them you won't miss them.
Add more chili sauce as desired.
Immediately serve over steamed rice, garnish with sliced green onions for some color. Makes 2-3 servings.
This is a great meat free meal that is quite filling, if you would like a side to go with it, wilted/cooked greens would be great, especially Asian greens like bok choy.
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