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Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

While shopping at my local Chinese supermarket a couple weeks back, I saw Chinese eggplants on sale. These eggplants were vibrant purple, plump and had a smooth skin without any blemishes. In all my years of grocery shopping, it is rare you come across fresh eggplants like these on sale, so I had to pick up a few to bring home.

I wanted to try to recreate the eggplant dish that I always order at Chinese restaurants: with ample amount of garlic, soft and tender eggplants that maintain their vibrant purple hue. The best stir-fried eggplant I have had is from the food stalls in Yaohan Centre in Richmond, but it has been well over a year since I have eaten there.

I searched online and came across a recipe that looked good. I made two changes to the original recipe: omitting the chili peppers as it would be too spicy for the little man, and omitting the black vinegar. This recipe tastes delicious but the eggplants lost its color during the cooking process and turned a dark brownish purple, despite my attempt to blanch them quickly in hot water.

Afterwards, I did a little research and found out the reason why my eggplants turned brown. One thread on Chowhund said that to prevent the skin of the eggplant from oxidizing (turning brown), you need to either weigh the eggplants down with a plate when blanching or deep fry the eggplants in 3 inches of hot oil. Next time I see eggplants on sale again, I will have to try this tip out!

If you decide to make this recipe, please let me know if you try the Chowhund tip above and how (and if) it worked for you.

4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
3 large Chinese or Japanese eggplants, cut into 2 inch long strips
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp ginger, finely minced
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

1. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the eggplants for 15 seconds. (To maintain the eggplant's purple color, the tip from Chowhund said to weigh the eggplants down with a plate or deep fry the eggplants in 3 inches of hot oil). Drain the eggplants and immerse them in cold water to stop the cooking process.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok or cast iron pan over high heat. Once the oil is shimmering and the pan is hot, add the eggplants in a single layer and cook for a minute.

3. Flip the eggplant to cook the other side for another minute or two. Remove from the pan.

4. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Stir fry the garlic, ginger and green onion until fragrant.

5. Mix the eggplants, garlic, ginger and green onion together. Add in soy sauce, sugar and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Source: Slightly adapted from Steamy Kitchen

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