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Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

Chile garlic sauce is a common ingredient in Chinese markets. It is the consistency of a thick puree and gives intense heat and flavor to any dish, especially when cooked with additional fresh garlic and ginger. This dish is delicious served at room temperature or chilled, and is a Sichuan-style dish -- hot and spicy with sweetness from the pork. Chinese eggplant is more slender than a regular eggplant, and it is said to be less bitter.

3 medium Chinese eggplants, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons chile garlic sauce
2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese red rice vinegar
2 tablespoons rice cooking wine (Shao Hsing brand preferred)
1 tablespoon sugar
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup ground pork
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
1/2 cup chopped scallions

Remove the stem and trim the ends from the eggplants. Cut the unpeeled eggplants into scant 1/2-inch-thick by 2 1/2-inch-long strips. In a small bowl, combine the chile garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine, sugar and 2/3 cup cold water.

Heat a flat-bottomed wok or skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 3 tablespoons oil and half the eggplant, and stir-fry 2 minutes, or until some of the eggplant begins to brown and soften.

Transfer the eggplant to a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and 3 tablespoons of oil, transferring to the plate with first batch. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, pork, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry about 1 minute, or until golden and fragrant. Return the eggplant to the wok.

Re-stir the chile sauce mixture, and swirl into the wok. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until the eggplant is just tender. Stir in scallions and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal.

"Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen" by Grace Young

Thursday, August 12, 1999

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