Does this dish use eggplant or it is an aubergine? As you'll know, it depends where you come from. In the US, it's an aubergine, in the UK, an aubergine. Then again, in India, it's brinjal and in Japan, we call it nasu. Whatever you chose to call this beautiful vegetable, there's no denying that (let's call it) eggplant, can be a very important part of your diet. First off, it's zero fat and zero cholesterol. It's low in calories but high in dietary fibre. The gorgeous colour of an eggplant's skin comes from an anti-oxidant called nasunin. Eggplant also contains high levels of the minerla potassium which is vital for maintaining your body's fluid content at the cellular level as well as helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure. All of this probably explains why the eggplant is one of Japan's most popular vegetables.
Health benefits aside, eggplant is also a great vegetable for soaking up flavours, so when I make it, I like to accompany it with a rich sauce. This recipe in particular is one that I make quite often - the richness of the flavour makes it possible to use this as a main course in place of meat - the taste really is that satisfying - so, this works for vegetarians and vegans as a meat free meal.
The first thing to do is a little bit of prep on your eggplant. What does this entail? Nothing more than cutting the eggplant into bite sized pieces and then putting the pieces in a bowl and covering them with cold water for 15 - 30 minutes. You've probably come across this technique before - it removes the slightly bitter taste from the flesh of the eggplant. Some cooks immerse the eggplant in salted water - AKA blanching - but I find that you get much the same effect by simply using water alone. (But if you are in the habit of blanching your eggplant, then by all means do it that way.)
Once the aubergine is in water, use the wating time to prepare the other vegetables - just some spring onion and a little shredded ginger. When that's done, you can make up your sauce - sugar, soy sauce, cooking sake, mirin, sesame oil and Chinese chilli oil (AKA toban jian) - yes, this sauce is rich and multi-layered - and the eggplant will soak up every last little bit of the taste. I add a little water to the sauce as well because it is going to go into a hot pan so what the eggplant doesn't absorb will evaporate quite quickly - ideally, what you want is a little sauce left over in the pan when you take the pan off the heat. (PS: If you don't have or can't find Chinese toban jian sauce, then use 1/4 tsp of chilli powder as a substitute.)
When the prep is done, then it is just a matter of a quick stir fry for around 5 minutes and the dish is ready. As I said above, I often serve this as a main dish for those times when I want a meat free meal but you could also use the amounts below as a great vegetable side dish for 4 people. This dish is best accompanied with steamed rice but I've also eaten it ladled over noodles and that's great too.
If you would like to try this recipe yourself, then you can find the Youtube tutorial by clicking Stir fried Spicy Soy Eggplant or by scrolling to the bottom of the page. Th written recipe is jsut below.
Happy cooking! kurumi XXXX.
(makes 2 servings)
1 medium eggplant / aubergine / brinjal
3 spring onions, rinsed
1/2 in / 1 cm of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
for the sauce:
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp Chinese toban jian or Thai sriracha (or 1/4 tsp of chilli powder)
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds for topping (optional)
Remove the stem of an eggplant and halve longways. Then, halve each piece again.
Diagonally cut the quarters into bite size pieces
Place all the eggplant in a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave for 10-15 minutes to remove the bitter flavour. Drain well prior to stir frying
Trim both ends of the spring onions, then diagonally slice into small pieces and set aside
Cut a thumb sized piece of ginger about 1/2 in / 1 cm thick. Slice into 2 or 3 pieces, then cut into fine shreds and set aside
To prepare the sauce;
Put the sugar, soy sauce, mirin, water, sesame oil, toban jian and vinegar into a small mixing bowl. Mix well
Heat the 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a medium frying pan until hot. Add the aubergine and stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes until the aubergine begins to lightly brown. Now, add the ginger shreds and stir fry for a further 1 - 2 minutes
Turn down the heat to medium. Add the sauce and stir fry for 30 seconds before adding the spring onions. Stir fry for another 10 seconds
Pile the aubergine onto a serving plate and garnish with the toasted sesame
Serve with a bowl of rice or alternatively, a plate of noodles