Typically with Chinese braised eggplants, you use a lot of oil.
How to Make Chinese Braised Eggplants 紅燒茄子
But in this recipe, developed by Cook's Illustrated's Steve Dunn, we braise the eggplants in the sauce, which helps achieve that creamy and tender texture. And, it uses a fraction of the oil, which makes this vegetarian dish even more healthy.
In this episode of Hunger Pangs, watch father-and-son Jeffrey and Kevin Pang demonstrate this iconic Sichuan-inspired dish.
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Braised Eggplants with Soy, Ginger, Garlic 紅燒茄子
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons Asian broad-bean chili paste (doubanjiang)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 (8- to 10-ounce) Chinese, globe or Italian eggplants
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 scallions, sliced thin on bias
Before You Begin
Large globe and Italian eggplants disintegrate when braised, so do not substitute a single 1- to 1¼-pound eggplant here. You can substitute 1 to 1¼ pounds of long, slim Chinese or Japanese eggplants if they are available; cut them as directed. Chinese broad bean chili paste or sauce is also known as doubanjiang or, as the common brand Lee Kum Kee spells it, toban djan. This dish pairs nicely with rice and simply cooked chicken or pork, but you can omit the protein and serve it in larger portions as a vegetarian or vegan main course.
- Whisk water, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, chili paste, and cornstarch in medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Trim ½ inch from top and bottom of 1 eggplant. Halve eggplant crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise into 2 pieces. Cut each piece into ¾-inch-thick wedges. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
- Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Spread eggplant evenly in skillet (pieces will not form single layer). Pour rice wine mixture over eggplant. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to maintain gentle boil. Cover and cook until eggplant is soft and has decreased in volume enough to form single layer on bottom of skillet, about 15 minutes, gently shaking skillet to settle eggplant halfway through cooking (some pieces will remain opaque).
- Uncover and continue to cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until liquid is thickened and reduced to just a few tablespoons, 12 to 14 minutes longer. Transfer to platter, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.