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Eggplant 茄子


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Yes, I got lazy with the hot oil part. It would have meant another pan to wash. Also not sure sesame oil was really needed. Probably would have been just as good with some other more "neutral" oil. But I had just bought some earlier in the week and wanted to use it. It was my "new toy."

Added the sprinkle of vinegar at the last minute to get the "sugar plus vinegar" taste boost. Not sure it was necessary.

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#6 -- Thanks, Roddy. What I'd really like to do is advocate sort of "reverse engineering" the whole cooking process and make the key determining factor what ingredients are in season, fresh, abundant, and cheap near where one is living, especially in China.

It's my thesis that if one just sits down with a cook book or an online recipe website and says, "Oh yum, guess I'll try to make Boeuf Bourguinon tonight," that leads to a difficult quest to find specific ingredients that may or may not be available locally.

Instead, I've learned to just walk through the market with an open mind and see what looks like a promising candidate for my dinner table. The process starts with, "That sure looks tasty, I'll scout around and find out how to cook it."

The execution of the project often requires acquisition of new vocabulary, which I consider to be a practical plus.

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I like going to the farmer's market, and usually just ask the people there how to cook different stuff, or look up recipes online in Chinese. The people selling whatever vegetable will give tips on how to cook it, though this might not work so well in regions with more 方言.

Recently I have been eating a lot of 空心菜, water spinach in English. This stuff is soooo good. Imagine spinach but with like 10x the crunch. You can stir-fry it and it is still crisper than most greens.

I've also been eating a lot of bitter melon. These things are crazy healthy. Yes, they are bitter, but if you get a ripe one and cook it the right way, you can't taste the bitterness.

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I've also been eating a lot of bitter melon. These things are crazy healthy. Yes, they are bitter, but if you get a ripe one and cook it the right way, you can't taste the bitterness.

Like the above poster, I don't know what to do with it. @WestTexas, how do you make it? I don't mind things that are a little bitter, and enjoy eating 苦菜。 I haven't tried researching it on line. Probably should.

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Water spinach is also called 蕹菜 or 通菜. The spicy tofu sauce is also good for this veggie.

I've got some lufu 卤腐 left. This sounds like a good use for it. And I'll use hot oil from a ladle this time!

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老挝茄子 Lao Eggplant

I learned this recipe on a cooking course in Laos. Its really straight forward but tastes great. In fact, I didn't expect it to be so good as its so simple, with pretty common ingredients. The basic recipe is below.

For one person

60grams pork loin or lean pork to stir fry. Cut the pork into long, thin strips (like 鱼香肉丝 style)

3 large spring onions

1 long, purple eggplant

3 gloves of garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Cut spring onion into 2 cm lengths then cut again length ways

Cut the eggplant into 3cm lengths / pieces, about a centimetre wide.

Crush and dice garlic

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in wok and add the eggplant. Cook until it starts to soften and turns a golden colour. Do not overcook so it because too soft.

Remove eggplant and place aside on a dish

Add oil to wok, add garlic until you can smell aroma

Add pork amd stir fry until cooked

Add salt and sugar

Keep stiring, add oyster sauce, onion and cooked eggplant. Keep stirring until onions soften (cooked but firm).

Taste and add more of anything if required.

Thats pretty much the recipe as I have it written down. However, I have never made this for one person so tend to add more garlic, sugar, salt and oyster sauce. I have used the big round eggplants that you get more commly in China with good results. The trick is not to add to much oyster sauce and not too little. For a while I got overzealous with it and it was too overpowering. I have found the order that you add the ingreds is also important as to how it tastes in the end.

Finally, after learning this method of cooking the eggplant, removing it, then adding it again, I almost always do it like this now. At leadt if its a dish with other ingredients. Helps make sure I don't overcook it. I will try steaming though and see what I think!

Edit: Completely forgot to mention that this dish I also great with 豆干 dou gan, the hard pressed tofu that is a light brown colour and comes in squares. When I lived in Yinchuan, I only ever saw one kind of this but in Beijing they have a smoky kind and a lighter colour one - I don't like using these two. I started using this because my room mate at the time was a vegetarian but I really wanted to make this dish for them.

Anyway, just cut the dou gan into thin strips, about 5mm wide or a bit bigger if you like, then cook the same as the pork. I usually add splashes lf water if everything gets a bit dry when I first add the dou gan.

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老挝茄子 Lao Eggplant

That sounds delicious. Can't wait to try it. Many thanks.

II think you have hit on something important: Simple is always best when you have nice fresh main ingredients. I sometimes tend to get carried away and use too many condiments.

I have found the order that you add the ingreds is also important as to how it tastes in the end.

Agree 100%.

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I'd be interested in how you cook bitter melon, there seems to be tons of it right now in season.

Basically, you make it with scrambled eggs. In restaurants here they do what's called a 苦瓜蛋饼 (bitter melon egg pancake), which is like 3-4 eggs cooked on one of those circular griddle things with lots of little pieces of bitter melon thrown in. This is really good, but rather oily, so at home I just do it with scrambled eggs, lots of garlic, green onion, a bit of red pepper, and sometimes tomatoes. You need 2-3 eggs for a whole melon. TBH I'm still working on getting the exact recipe down myself, but for whatever reason eggs really complement the bitter flavor well.

Get the bitter melons that are starting to turn a little yellow. This means they are ripe. Another sign that it's ripe is that the seeds are blood red. It's actually almost scary when you cut open a ripe one, because it looks like someone injected it full of blood. Or you can eat less ripe ones. The less ripe ones are firmer and have more crunch but are more bitter.

The bitter melon has all sorts of health benefits. It has such an interesting look, too. You can get fat ones, short ones, long ones, ribbed ones, and spiky ones (like condoms?). At the farmer's market here a big one is 1 yuan, and 2-3 yuan at the store.

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Let me know if you try it and what you think!

And back to eggplant, anyone know a good recipe to make 鱼香茄子?

Does usually involves deep frying the eggplant? Wouldn't mind some advice on that too...

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Does usually involves deep frying the eggplant?

@ChTTay, I make 鱼香茄子 stir-fried in a wok, not deep fried. Will put up a recipe in a day or two. (I want to try Lao Eggplant first.)

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