I was craving Chinese take-out for some reason–the bad, oily and saucy kind–and so my mouth watered when I read this recipe in the Sunday Times. I bought a large eggplant on my way home because our neighborhood supermarket doesn’t carry the small and thinner Asian kind. The large ones have darker and tougher purple skin, so I took more time simmering them here. As usual, I followed Harold McGee and salted the eggplant pieces after I sliced them. This draws out the moisture and collapses their spongy texture, so they don’t absorb all the oil when sauteing.
I realized I ran out of soy sauce when I was ready to make the sauce. I ended up using the kecap sambal in our pantry instead. It’s made of soy beans but also includes relish. I also used the last dollop of kochujang sauce I had in the fridge. Looks like I need to make a trip to Chinatown soon and restock my Asian pantry.
1 large eggplant, cut into smaller chunks
some ground pork
1 tbsp kecap sambal
1 1/2 tsps sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp kochujang sauce
2 stalks of scallions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1. Place the eggplant chunks in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the kecap sambal, sugar, kochujang sauce and cornstarch until the cornstarch dissolves. Set aside.
3. In a large wok, heat some of the peanut oil over high heat. SautÃ© garlic until golden brown. Add scallions and cook until soft. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.
4. Dab eggplant dry with paper towels. In the wok, heat some more oil over medium high until it just starts to smoke. Add the eggplant, and sautÃ© until lightly browned and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sauce mixture. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Once the sauce thickens, add the pork back and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer until the sauce thickens and the eggplant is tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt.