Plump, firm, bright purple in colour – ‘Eggplant’ as it is widely known here in America, commonly called ‘Aubergine’ in Europe, and liltingly called ‘Brinjal’ in my homeland in South-East Asia, is rather bitter when raw but easily absorbs flavours used in the cooking process. Its versatility is evidenced by its widespread use in varying cuisines around the world, using a range of preparation techniques. Here is one of my staple recipes using only a handful of ingredients that are easily found in my pantry. Asian eggplants which are elongated in shape are easily available here and is what I have used, cut into 2″ x ½” strips. If using oval-shaped ones, they can be cut into semi-circular pieces, ½” cubes or any shape that is easy to eat. Braising allows the eggplant to slowly soak up the sauces, giving it a complex, rich taste.
2 medium-sized eggplants, cut into 2″ x ½” strips
½ lb minced pork
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Cilantro, to garnish
4 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon black vinegar
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1. Prepare sauce and mix well. Set aside.
2. Heat a little oil in a wok. Add pork into hot oil, breaking up the pieces constantly to prevent clumping.
3. When pork is half-cooked, add a little more oil and reduce the heat.
4. Add garlic and eggplant. Cook till eggplant starts to wilt at the edges, about 2-3 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add sauce and bring it to a boil, stirring to coat eggplant in the sauce. A little water (no more than ½ cup) may be added if sauce is insufficient.
7. Reduce heat to a medium simmer and cover till eggplant is fully cooked and sauce has mostly been absorbed.
8. Garnish with cilantro.