Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

This is one of my favorite Asian restaurant dishes.  I’m told there are countless variations, and that every family has a unique recipe.  This one’s pretty good.  First the basics. 

Ichiban Asian Eggplantss

You’ll need authentic ingredients.   This calls for a trip to the Asian supermarket.  For the eggplant, I use Asian varieties, like Ichiban II or Oriental express, from my own garden.  Same for dried red chilies.  The ones in these pictures are Espelettes, dried from last years garden.  

Serves:  Not really sure.  With no rice and served as a meal-in-a-bowl with a nice Riesling on the side, this feeds two hungry people.  I can vouch for this.  Add rice and it will probably stretch to four to six.ds

For the sauce:
    •    1 tablespoon spicy bean paste
    •    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    •    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    •    2 teaspoons sugar
    •    1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
    •    1 teaspoon fish sauce
    •    1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

For the rest of the dish:
    •    2-3 medium Asian eggplants (about 6 cups)
    •    2 scallions,
    •    2 tablespoons oil (divided)
    •    4 oz. Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage (see NOTE below)
    •    2 fresh ginger
    •    10 dried red chilies
    •    4 cloves garlic
    •    1 tablespoon shaoxing wine

NOTES:  All traditional recipes you see call for straight ground pork.  I suppose you could use any ground meat you want, or simply prepare without meat.   For my vegetarian friends, I leave off the meat and add an increase the other ingredients by about 25 percent.  The recipe here is meant for a side dish.  If I am preparing this as a main dish, increase the meat by about 25 percent

Getting Ready
Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.
Slice eggplant into equal size chunks.  DO NOT PEEL. You should have about six cups.
Slice the scallions in two inch pieces.
Peal the ginger and slice off a hefty flat chunk.  Make six to eight very thin slices.
If you’re a ‘Mise en Place’ person, measure and lay out everything else in its proper place.

A wok is nice but not required.  Add 1tbsp of sesame oil to large pan, and crank up the heat to ‘High’.  When things are nice and hot, dump in half the eggplant chunks.  The secret to this dish (IMHO) is not-quite-burning the eggplant.  This takes about 5 minutes on High heat.  You know they are done when each piece has completely collapsed, and the dark purple peel is fading.  When the first batch of eggplant is done, remove it.  Pour the second tbsp of sesame oil into the pan and cook the rest of the eggplant.  Remove from the pan when done.

Turn down the heat.   Brown the sausage. When it’s nicely brown, lay the strips of ginger on the meat.  Let cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the chilis, garlic,and scallions.  Cook for a couple of minutes.

Turn the heat back up to high.  Add the sauce, eggplant, and cooking wine.  Stir fry the lot for a couple of minutes.