Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Saucy Chinese Eggplant With Tofu




Eggplants (or aubergine) are versatile fruits which are enjoyed across the globe.  They appear in European, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes and usually taste quite different depending on region.  There are also several variety of eggplant including: Italian, which is the dark (almost black) chubby kind we usually see in North America; Indian, which is a short variety which resembles a pear; and Chinese.

Chinese eggplants are the long skinny kind which are similar in length to a cucumber.  They are not as dark as other varieties and usually retain their vibrant purple colour when cooked.  If you are having a hard time finding a Chinese eggplant, any kind will do for this recipe.

This recipe combines eggplant, tofu, and a Chinese five spice sauce which has a subtle flavour reminiscent of chai.  It is easiest to buy tofu pre-fried for this recipe as it saves time and you don't have to deal with the dreaded deep-fry smell. 

Tofu is available pre-fried from Asian grocery stores.  There are several varieties to choose from including pressed, dense, cubed, triangles, marinated, or puffy.  Feel free to experiment with all or any!  My personal preference is for the puffy kind (you will know what I mean by 'puffy' if you squeeze the package).  This kind of tofu is like a memory foam pillow with pockets of air throughout the curd, which is perfect of sucking up sauces and marinades. 



For 4 Servings:

  • 2 Chinese eggplants, cubed 
  • 1 package fried tofu, cubed 
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped 
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • oil for frying


Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoons five spice powder 
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch, or rice flour


Sauce directions:
  1. In a large measuring cup, or bowl, combine all ingredients and stir.  *it is best to make this at least 30 minutes in advance to let the ginger steep. 


Eggplant:

  1. Heat a drop of oil in a large frying pan or wok. 
  2. Add the eggplant and fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown.  
  3. Add the peppers, scallions and garlic and tofu and fry until the peppers are soft.  
  4. Add the sauce and heat gently until the sauce thickens.  
  5. Remove from heat and serve over steamed rice. 


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