09 May2007

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! aspicytal1It 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 “Szechuan style” or “spicy” 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 justice… so I scoured my Asian cookbooks and even the internet but I didn’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 like… 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. aspicytal2Cut 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 sautéing 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. That’s just PHP12.50 per serving. Enjoy!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Keli says:

    Wow MM! I will definitely try this at home! Care to share more of your budget-friendly recipes?

    May 9, 2007 | 4:34 pm

     
  2. Pilar says:

    This is our favorite viand in Hong Kong specially when winter strikes in. It goes well with congee and noodles too. My kids love it so much. Lately, I hae been using Amoy brand of spicy eggplant sauce. It works well too. But not with Lee Kum Kee brand since the eggplant doesn’t taste that good.

    May 9, 2007 | 5:24 pm

     
  3. Apicio says:

    Recipes such as this, flavourful although made out of common and inexpensive ingredients is what mothers in China have been whipping up for their families since the beginning of time. Noticed its resemblance to my favorite dish Ma Po Taofu. Ma Po is usually translated in English as Pock Marked Woman, I guess what my own mother would call “bulutongga.”

    May 9, 2007 | 7:05 pm

     
  4. marosee says:

    this dish is really good.. we’ve been making it since my mom tried it in chinatown’s best and it’s always been a bestseller..even if they say that eggplants don’t have that much nutritional value.

    May 9, 2007 | 10:55 pm

     
  5. Maria Clara says:

    Unassuming eggplant finds its way in elegant Chinese lauriat banquet through this vehicle. Getting it ala carte at a Chinese restaurant is murder. The most expensive eggplant you pay for with a handful of ground pork bath in oyster sauce with sprints of sesame oil — if you get lucky peppered with sesame seeds. Chinese Vegan bistro prepares this dish with tofu. It is also very good.

    May 10, 2007 | 12:27 am

     
  6. danney says:

    I love eggplant. Everytime I go home for vacation in the Philippines, I always ask my family to cook me pritong talong with soy sauce, onions and potato cooked like bistek tagalog. Simple food but one of my comfort foods. There is a nice Chinese restaurant (its actually fastfood) on the top floor of Horton Plaza in San Diego and they always serve spicy szechuan eggplant. I think they fried the eggplant first with a bit of soy sauce before mixing it with the rest near the end. Very tasty!! Another one that I’ve tried is eggplant lasagna and it is very good too. I’m intrigue though how to cook sliced eggplant with cheese on top and covered with bread crumbs.

    May 10, 2007 | 1:24 am

     
  7. Marketman says:

    keli, I have several modestly costed meals throughout my archives, just browse under recipes for homemade tapa, tocino, beefsteak, tofu or tokwa and vegetables, vegetables, etc. Apicio, we like Ma Po Taofu as well…and I have to admit, I sometimes use a ready made spice mix when I make it! marosee, yuo are right, eggplants are a bit of a nutrition airhead, but at least they have fiber… Danney, I once had a eggplant and gata dish in Legaspi that was excellent, you might like it…

    May 10, 2007 | 7:13 am

     
  8. bernadette says:

    I like cooking with eggplants especially with gata…but find it quite time-consuming when it comes to other dishes. My husband finds the skin quite rubbery or a nuisance so I usually grill it first or boil to take the skin out. Your recipe sounds very good and even very economical. We have lots of sili (haba and liit) in our garden so that answers for half of the ingredients. It is so good to be learning the origins of a simple recipe such as this…parang home study in culinary arts :-)!

    May 10, 2007 | 1:10 pm

     
  9. math says:

    I use the ma po tofu mix for this one. It goes well w/ this dish too!

    May 10, 2007 | 5:11 pm

     
  10. Crissy says:

    Love this dish ! I am based in Doha where pork is not available – do you think using minced beef will do justice to this dish ? Also, what’s a good substitute for Shaoxing rice wine. Thanks.

    May 21, 2007 | 12:25 am

     
  11. iska says:

    They do have something very much similar to your dish here in Beijing. They use dry sliced red chili… a lot!

    May 22, 2007 | 10:50 am

     
 

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