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Eggplants…China Style!

Before they came to China, many Westerners hated eggplants because their home countries tend to cook eggplants in a flavorless way. The worst recipe I have heard of was cooking the vegetable in plain water!

The eggplant started to appear on Chinese dining tables before it was introduced to the Europeans. Although it is believed to have originated in India, where a small, white, egg-like variety of the vegetable was high in demand, Chinese people across the country have definitely mastered the culinary techniques to bring out the best of eggplants.

The great novel “A Dream of Red Mansions” mentioned an ultimate recipe of how to cook them: “The vegetables are skinned and cut into strips that are steamed over a pot of chicken stock. They are dried and the whole process repeated nine times until the essence of chicken has thoroughly soaked through the vegetable. Store them in tightly sealed jars and stir fry them with slivers of meat from chicken drumsticks.”

Some enthusiastic gastronomes have attempted to make this awe-inspiring eggplant delicacy. However, individuals should consider other more feasible methods to make a tasty eggplant dish.

Braised Eggplant

An authentic braised eggplant dish requires attention to detail. The eggplant is cut into strips with small scale-like incisions on the skin in order to better infuse flavor while it cooks. First, the strips are softened in hot oil and slowly turns brown. The signature base for this dish is prepared separately, consisting of a mixture of Sichuan chili sauce, minced garlic, ginger and a lot of shallot. Then, ground pork is added and stir fried before placing the eggplant strips back in the wok. Sometimes, pickled chili and sweet chili sauce is added to deliver a special fragrance.

Stuffed Eggplant

The eggplant is cut into thick slices, each of which has a lateral cut. Make a filling from ground pork or any meat you prefer and stuff it into the eggplant slices. The stuffed eggplants are coated in flour and then glazed in beaten egg. Deep fry the eggplants until they are brown and not too soft.

Baked Eggplant

It is super easy to make baked eggplant as long as you have an oven. Cut the eggplant into halves and brush the skin with oil before sprinkling all sorts of seasoning according to your preference on top. To name a few, you can try out minced ginger, garlic, chili, salt, pepper, cumin, curry or even cinnamon. A little soy sauce can boost the overall flavor as well. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes based on the size of your eggplant. Finally, sprinkle a little shallot on the softened eggplant meat. If you like, some needle mushrooms can be added for an extra crunchy sensation before you place the dish into the oven.