This post was first printed in July of 2005. It is a highly economical, and utterly flavor packed dish that is a house favorite. Very easy to make, it has commonly available ingredients and is best eaten with lots of white rice…
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!