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Hongshao Qiezi – An eggplant mistake set right


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Oh I love you. This is like one of my favorite things to eat. The eggplants are so pillowy and tasty. At the canteen in my school they use those spicy thin green peppers in lieu of dried chilli peppers. It's nice, sometimes they're hot but usually very mild. Perfect for me who can't handle spice for her life.

The soaking in salt water isn't to prevent browning, but rather to remove any bitterness. You don't really taste it with smaller varieties but if you use a larger variety you'll notice a distinct bitterness if you don't soak with salt water.


P.S~ I would have thrown it out too. I don't like wasting but there's nothing worse than eating a vegetable that has gone past its prime.

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The soaking in salt water isn't to prevent browning, but rather to remove any bitterness. You don't really taste it with smaller varieties but if you use a larger variety you'll notice a distinct bitterness if you don't soak with salt water.


Thanks @Grawrt. I had wondered about that.

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Thanks, Skylee. I'll go back and correct that typo. Had started to add a note about the type of garlic, but the article was getting long, so I didn't.


I sometimes use the kind that is just one large head, 独蒜, but this time used the kind that has multiple cloves per head, 大蒜。Flavor and cost are about the same. Here's a snapshot showing both kinds for comparison.


post-20301-0-60359500-1428453761_thumb.jpg post-20301-0-80509600-1428454377_thumb.jpg


蒜头 makes good sense, and I use "a head of garlic" in English. Not sure I've heard 蒜头 here in Kunming, but if I do, I will now know what it means.

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A few other footnotes. The first is about 鸡精, granulated chicken bullion as a flavoring ingredient. It's found in every Chinese grocery store, large or small, to the best of my knowledge. A very common item; nothing in the least exotic.


post-20301-0-58342100-1428455759_thumb.jpg post-20301-0-18856700-1428455769_thumb.jpg


Mix with water or other liquids before adding to the dish you are preparing. Needs to be cooked.


It's worth knowing that, according to the ingredients list on the label, it does contain some salt 盐 and MSG 味精。So if you will also be adding either of these out of habit, reduce the amount.




Second comment I wanted to add was that you can easily add ground meat 肉末 to make the finished dish more substantial as a one-dish meal.




The way to do that is to stir-fry the meat alone early on, take it out and reserve it in a dish. Then add it back near the end when you are adding back the precooked eggplant. Very little additional work.




Third reminder was about the rice. Always start it first, while you are beginning the prep of your other ingredients.




For best results with white rice, wash it three times in cool water just by swirling it around and pouring off the water. Then let it stand in clean cool water 15 or 20 minutes before turning on the heat. This lets it preabsorb some water and cook up light and fluffy.


If you are using dark rice or whole-grain rice, the soaking time needs to be longer, up to 3 or 4 hours for best result depending on the rice.


post-20301-0-64297300-1428457374_thumb.jpg post-20301-0-87637100-1428457385_thumb.jpg


When the rice cooker machine says it's done, when the indicator light changes color, open the top and have a look to make sure. The visible water should be gone and the surface of the rice should be perforated by many tiny steam holes. The edges of the rice will be slightly pulled away from the pot.


Stir it gently only a couple times with a pair of chopsticks. Don't use a spoon or rice paddle, since those implements will make the rice stick together in large clumps.


Unplug the cooker and re-close the top until you are ready to use it. It will stay warm without overcooking.

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@Anonymoose -- Will you be able to find the ingredients in the UK? Probably so. Hope the method serves you well wherever you try it out.


One of the reasons I like recipes like this is that they are not "fussy" -- don't require precise measurement of ingredients and don't demand exact cooking times. They are tolerant; therefore good for amateur chefs. Furthermore, the leftovers reheat well, a plus for bachelors and bachelorettes.

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Excellent photo and description, @Liuzhou. I also prefer 独蒜 for those same reasons, with ease of use being the main thing.


Several NW restaurants near where I live provide free garlic for the table. It's the more standard, many-cloves-per-head kind. You peel it and nibble with your 拉面 or 炒面片。Two of these places feature Shaanxi 陕西 food and one is Gansu 甘肃。Not sure where they get it, but their garlic really has a bite. Can make your eyes water if you get too eager with it. 


I've had it furnished at the table in Dongbei too. Struck me as a strange custom: one of those "You are really in China now" moments. 


Don't think I've ever seen black garlic. Eye-catching appearance. Interesting post. I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip.


Back in the US, where I have a kitchen with an oven, I often slow roast garlic, letting it almost caramelize. Cut the top off a whole head, add olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and roast for 30-40 minutes in the oven on low heat (250 F or so.) Usually make several at a time, since they store well. Just squeeze it out like toothpaste. Use as a sauce ingredient on pasta, or just spread on fresh sour-dough bread instead of butter. Decadent!

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Free raw garlic is normal on Xi'an restaurant tables, at least the smaller neighbourhood ones.  Possibly not in the more touristy places. I lived for a year in Xi'an in the late 1990's but hung out in non-tourist places.


I often slow roast garlic too - in my locally bought toaster oven.


Black garlic is available on Taobao, but there is one shop here in town which usually has it.

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  • 5 years later...
On 4/16/2020 at 3:35 AM, Venus Soriano said:

Do hong xiao qie zi require tomatoes all the time? Or some really doesn’t have tomatoes?


Welcome to the forum!


The most popular way to make it uses tomato paste or tomato sauce instead of whole tomatoes, but I have had it in small family-style restaurants in Kunming without any tomato-related ingredients at all. When I'm making it at home (in China) I use tomatoes in the summer when they are vine ripened and have lots of flavor. In the winter when the tomatoes are not as good, I use tomato paste or tomato sauce instead. Tomatoes or tomato products add acidity to the dish as well as tomato flavor per se. This helps the final taste balance.


It is less interesting without tomatoes unless you grill or deep-fry the eggplant beforehand, as a first step. Grilling or deep-frying the eggplant develops its flavor more fully than simple stir frying. 


Would add that this is a dish made all over China, and regional variations are common. You might find it made one way in Beijing or Shanghai and made another way in Guangzhou or Chengdu. The only thing never missing in Hong Shao Qiezi 红烧茄子 is the soy sauce 酱油。That is what defines this cooking style and that is what makes it "red cooked." 


Is the reason you ask because you are allergic to tomatoes or don't like their taste? Or is it that you just cannot find good ones right now locally where you live? If it's the latter, don't forget about canned tomatoes.


Let me find a no-tomato recipe for you. I will come back to post it later today. 

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Here is a recipe for making Hongshao Qiezi 红烧茄子 without tomatoes or tomato products. It is straight forward and I have made it this way on occasion myself. It works best if you use the long, thin Asian eggplant instead of the large rounder Mediterranean eggplant. The long, thin Asian eggplants don't need to be peeled, whereas the large rounder Mediterranean eggplants sometimes have a bitter skin. (These are not my original photos -- they are clipped from the internet.) 


2066328954_thineggplant-70.thumb.jpg.0b11362308c8160790637fb11f36a3a5.jpg     1609335669_eggplantMediterranean(2)-70.thumb.png.bc1bb7c6e9b6878cc304a71357143119.png     








(This recipe also doesn't use much oil. When you order Hongshao Qiezi in a restaurant, the eggplant is usually deep fried as a first step.) 


-- The video is pretty clear on its own, but If you don't speak Chinese and have questions on it, I will be glad to help you further or even give you a rough translation. 

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