I’ve never heard anyone exclaim or ever say, “I LOVE EGGPLANT!” Yet, it’s one of those foods, kind of like tofu that absorbs the flavors that you cook it with making it deserving of some love. I have seen so many beautifully grown eggplants at the farmers market and pictures from friend’s gardens that makes me remember a dish that I had at Renton’s delicious vegetarian restaurant, Blossom. It’s called Carmelized Eggplants in Clay Pot and it is amazing. I knew I could not replicate that dish at home, but the thought of trying to make a caramelized eggplant dish gave me reason to use up one of these beauties and do it some flavor justice! This is an easy version that was actually pretty tasty. Please enjoy!
Spicy Caramelized Eggplant
1½ pounds eggplant (Asian long eggplant is recommended)
1 to 2 cups peanut or vegetable (oil depending on how deep your wok is)
8 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled
1 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
1 T. Sambal chili sauce or 1/2 T. Sriracha
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
2 green onions sliced for garnish
Rinse and pat dry the eggplants. Remove the caps and trim off any bruises. Cut the eggplants into 1-inch chunks. Heat the oil on high in a wok. You want about a 2-inch depth of oil.
Carefully add about a quarter of the eggplant to the hot oil and stir it around. Let it fry to a nice brown color, only stirring occasionally, then remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl. Repeat until eggplant is done. Drain off any extra oil from the bowl. (The eggplant can be prepared ahead of time up to this point.)
Pour off all of the oil in the wok, leaving just a small amount. Heat the wok over high again and the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry them until their edges start to brown, and then add the rice wine. Let it bubble for a second, and then add the cooked eggplant, soy sauce, sugar and hot sauce.
Quickly bring the wok to a boil again, tossing the eggplant so that each piece is coated with the sauce. When most of the sauce has been absorbed (in just a minute or two), plate and garnish with sliced green onions.
Tracey Bartel – Agent and Gourmand