This is definitely the recipe of the month! It is absolutely delicious, economical and takes less than 15 minutes to make. With a bowl of steamed rice it is a satisfying meal. I have always ordered â€œSzechuan styleâ€ or â€œspicyâ€ eggplant dishes in Chinese restaurants (particularly in the West) but I have NEVER tried to cook it at home. The other day I purchased all that incredible eggplant and just had to do it justiceâ€¦ so I scoured my Asian cookbooks and even the internet but I didnâ€™t find a recipe that I completely liked. So I took the basic ideas from the recipes and improvised a little. A Chinese cook would probably cringe at my version, but I liked it, so there. I do not call it anything Szechuan or Chinese likeâ€¦ this is simply Spicy Eggplant a la Marketman.
Start with superb eggplants. The ones I used were the best I have seen in Manila in recent memory. They were large, firm, unblemished, with solid meat (no airy insides with lots of maturish seeds) and shiny skinned Asian eggplants. I used four large ones. Cut into bite sized cubes and set aside. Marinate some ground pork say 1-2 cups in 2-3 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce, some water and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Add say two tablespoons of oyster sauce to the meat mixture. Put a frying pan or wok on super high heat. Wait for the pan to get really hot. Add 4-6 tablespoons of vegetable oil and wait a few seconds till that gets really hot. Put all the eggplant in the pan and shake vigorously like those TV chefs like to do. Use a spatula to jostle the eggplant and avoid burning it. If the oil disappears (it gets absorbed really quickly, add a bit more. All the time keep shaking and keep the heat up. After 2-3 minutes, when the eggplant is semi-cooked, remove it to a clean plate. Return the pan to the fire and heat it up again. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil, and add the marinated meat mixture, Add 6 finely chopped cloves of garlic. Add about a tablespoon of Shaoxing rice wine then perhaps another 2-4 tablespoons of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of chili sauce with garlic and up to 3-4 chopped sili labuyos (birds eye chili). Add cracked black pepper. After a minute or so sautÃ©ing the meat (it should not be overly dry) add back the eggplants and stir gently until cooked, perhaps another 2-3 minutes. Add some chopped green onion for flavor and color. Serve hot with steamed rice. This could be a side dish or a main course. A touch of sesame oil could also be added just before serving if you like. Total cost probably below PHP100 and it would easily serve 8. Thatâ€™s just PHP12.50 per serving. Enjoy!