Friday, May 6, 2011

Eggplants with basil 塔香茄子

Today we are having eggplants for dinner. I've been thinking about this for a long time. This is the oriental eggplants, and they are thin and long compared to the western kinds. Chinese cooking is really into "color", "smell" and "taste" all in one dish. However, once the eggplants are heated, they are very easy to lose the purple color and become brown. Also, you can't cut them too early in advance, because they will get oxidized and turn brown, too. So to preserve the pretty color of the eggplants, Chinese have developed several ways to do it. (This is never a worry for eggplant parmesan.)

One way is to deep-fry the eggplants before cooking it, which almost all Chinese restaurants do, but this is too greasy for home dinner. One way is to cut them just before cooking and soak them in salt water, but this makes me too nervous. Eggplants are like tofu, hard to get flavors into them, so the dish needs a heavy sauce to bring up the flavor. I learned a great tip from Carol's kitchen (see "My Link") -- to cook them for exactly 3 min with a heavy sauce!

Chop up 8 cloves of garlic. Combine 4 Tbsp of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce and 7 Tbsp of water in a bowl. Rinse a box of basil leaves and let dry. Cut the 4 sticks of eggplants (about 660 g) into 2-in long cubes just right before starting.

Heat up 4-5 Tbsp of oil. Cook the garlic and a Tbsp of hot pepper sauce. When you can smell the garlic, add the eggplants, stir briefly. Add the combined soy sauce and water and cover. Cook for exact 3 min. (I use the timer on the stove.) Add the basil leaves, stir until they become withered. Serve.
With the heavy flavor sauce, this is really delicious and nicely flavored. And the most importantly, they are still in pretty purple! You can also replace the eggplants with clams. Taste great!

1 comment:

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