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Steamed eggplant with garlic vinaigrette 蒜蓉蒸茄子


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Looks delicious, abcd! Must cost just a couple of yuan by the time it hits the table.


I'm with you on finding ways to avoid standing over the wok in this weather, but I'm still mixed on steamed eggplant. I've never made it at home, but I've often felt it to be quite soggy in restaurants. At home, I always stir fry or bake it in the oven. Is eating it right off the steamer enough to avoid "mushy" eggplant?

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Thanks, Alex. It's tender, but not "mushy." I think the critical factor is to not steam it too long. I usually test it after only 4 or 5 minutes. If a chopstick will pierce the skin and flesh easily, I take it out. Usually takes 7 or 8 minutes to get properly done, and I remove it promptly, just a little before point, realizing that some residual cooking will still take place after it is off the flame.  


And after it is out of the steamer, I don't toss it or mix it vigorously like a tossed salad. That breaks the eggplant up too much. Let the diners make sure that each bite gets plenty of sauce and condiments as they pick it up; leave that task to them. 


In all candor, however, steamed eggplant is never going to be "al dente" -- it won't have the crunch that cucumber or celery might, even though the thinly sliced peppers and the minced garlic do provide some texture contrast. 

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Equipment footnote:


Steaming is a popular way to prepare food in an ordinary Chinese home kitchen. Just about everyone has a steamer pot, some of which have several layers to allow steaming a vegetable in one layer while steaming a fresh fish in another layer just below. Many people also use these steamers to make steamed buns 馒头 mantou and stuffed buns 包子 baozi. Here's a look at my simple steamer.


1795707375_IMG_4624-50.thumb.jpg.5f009754cb8e674cf45bec9b7695a550.jpg     605228929_IMG_4627-50.thumb.jpg.30c3da1e2afbbb4c3f5c845edec98490.jpg


You can place food directly onto the perforated metal plate or, more commonly, onto a shallow bowl or dish. The latter way is more popular because it allows you to catch the cooking juices as they are released. You don't loose any flavor.


1750063562_IMG_4633-60.thumb.jpg.0038a78487b2f49c38a6aa09f34fae50.jpg     1358501043_IMG_4630-50.thumb.jpg.7239a3c38e7c76f7d0b20f7c3dd1dbd0.jpg



Once the food is done, you need to lift out the hot dish. It's difficult with pot holders since there isn't much finger room. A hinged, claw-foot tool such as the one shown here, comes in very handy. Can't tell you how many times I burned my fingers before breaking down and spending 10 Yuan to buy this one.  





 If you don't have a steamer pot, you can use the basket insert in your rice cooker. I often do that so as to cook a vegetable at the same time as making steamed rice 米饭。But you don't need to be cooking rice; you can just put water into the cast iron bowl. 









And if you don't have a rice cooker, it's easy enough to use your wok. Put water into the wok, bring it to a boil. Set the food dish on a wire trivet that is high enough and big enough around, and cover the wok with its lid.





I have a collection of these wire trivets; several heights and diameters. They only cost about 10 Yuan each and they double as a way to protect your counter top from a hot pot or pan that is straight from the stove. 














Since moving to China, I find that I steam food more often than when I lived in the U.S. In talking with my Kunming friends, it seems they use this cooking method a lot too, some just about every day, especially in summer because it means you don't need to stand over a hot wok. 

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Thanks @Bibu -- I wasn't familiar with that but I looked it up. Must agree that it sounds refreshing for summer. I will definitely try it. 




Here's a recipe I found on-line. Is that how you make it at home? Do you put it in the refrigerator while it marinates, while the flavors blend?



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above is another recipe for your reference. Not necessary put in refrige, I ate mostly fresh, wait some 10 minutes on the table to cool down, it is fresh....


another key is the sauce.. vineger, garlic , sesames oil is the key, other credients various from home to home. Find a 东北人nearby, ask him/her how is your dish, they are the final judge.

I am afraid i am not 东北人 LOL. It is a 100% home made dish.


good luck..

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/11/2018 at 12:45 PM, abcdefg said:

That looks delicious

Had the good fortune to be present and it was, indeed, delicious. So much so I’m now under orders to make it myself. 

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On 5/29/2018 at 8:45 AM, abcdefg said:

live in Yunnan and we often have a 凉拌 on the table alongside warm food. 你从哪里来?


Suppose to answer it, I am a 100% northern now in Canton,  roughly half Xian Half Beijing.


Cold dish is quite normal in north China, in summer or to company 白酒, in south China, not much could dishes. Yunnan seems a little different, cold dishes seen daily life. 


When you checking dialects GEO pattern, Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan belongs to southwest official dialects,Mandarin. Not much diff from northern official dialects, on the contrary, Wuyue,(江浙) Canton, Minnan... is rather another language to a Northerner.


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@Bibu -- I made Beijing eggplant 北京茄子 one day last week. It was refreshing, but sure did have a strong flavor of garlic. I didn't think it was well balanced. 
















A summer eggplant dish which I like much more is 火烧茄子。(Very popular here in Yunnan. ) The eggplant is roasted over coals along with red bell peppers and hot chilies. It's brushed with oil, sprinkled with vinegar and salt. Usually eaten at room temperature as a 凉拌。It has a slight smoky taste. I often have it with roast duck 宜良烤鸭。



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I think maybe you misunderstood, @Bibu -- It is 火烧茄子 not 红烧茄子。 A very different dish. I'm not sure if it is popular outside of Yunnan. 


I buy the eggplant and the two kinds of peppers freshly roasted in the market, on a grill over coals like 烧烤。Then I combine them with some cilantro 香草, spring onion 小葱 and other seasonings at home. One stand at the market used to sell it freshly made on weekends, but they went out of business. They had a grill right outside the door. 

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