Braised Eggplant with Pork in Sichuan Sauce

We finally found a grocery store that has a really extensive selection of vegetables, fish, meat, etc. The store has the unimpressive name of Food For Less, which connotes one of these bargain stores that buys random stuff in big lots, so I have avoided going there. However last Saturday, we joined a walking club called the Rogue Valley Walkers and I struck up a conversation with Evelyn who told me about Food For Less. She said, “If they don’t have it, they will get it for you!

I have been trying to find Japanese eggplants somewhere since we moved here in June to no avail. Found them here no problem. This store also carries Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) which we like to steam and serve with Oyster Sauce. So tonight, I’m making Braised Eggplant with Pork in Sichuan Sauce, which will be accompanied by some steamed Gai Lan and white rice. Yum!

Braised Eggplant with Pork in Sichuan Sauce

Ingredients:

3 Japanese eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Sichuan fermented chili-bean paste (or generic Asian chili-garlic sauce if unavailable)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons black vinegar (or 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
4 scallions, whites and light green parts finely chopped, greens sliced
2 small hot green chilies (preferably Chinese, but Serrano or Jalapeño will do fine), seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
3 tablespoons peanut or avocado oil
4 ounces ground pork

Method:

1. Slice eggplant into quarters lengthwise, then cut into 3-4 inch lengths. Place pieces in bamboo steamer and steam in wok over medium heat until fully tender, about 15 minutes. Indentation made with finger on eggplant should not spring back. Transfer eggplant to bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine Shaoxing wine and cornstarch in medium bowl and whisk until no dry cornstarch remains. Add broth, sesame oil, bean paste, soy sauce, black vinegar, and sugar and whisk to combine. Combine ginger, garlic, scallion whites, and chilies in small bowl.

3. Heat oil in wok over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add ground pork and stir-fry for 30 seconds until most of pink color is gone. Push pork to sides of wok to make space at bottom. Add ginger mixture and stir fry 30 seconds until aromatic. Add eggplant and toss to combine. Add sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is rich, thick, and glossy, about 20 minutes. Stir in scallion greens, and serve immediately.

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