Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wok-ing out: Spicy Glazed Eggplant over Rice

I used to have a friend in college who would cook everything in a wok. He'd make mashed potatoes in the damn thing. We didn't have gas stoves, and he wasn't Asian. I found it a little peculiar.
However, years later I have come to realize the beauty of how to properly use a wok. Today, I decided on cooking up some of the lovely, long and thin Asian eggplant that I had picked up from Kimball Fruit Farm's stand at the Dewey Square farmers market earlier in the week. I threw some short grain rice into the rice maker, which by the way, I think everyone should own. I have a Zojirushi and it sings twinkle twinkle little star when the rice is finished. Delightful? Of course it is. Also, it will warm your rice for a day or two. So you can make more than a single serving, and know that the rice will be prime for something like a preparation of fried rice the next day. 
So start out with about four medium-sized Asian eggplant. Cut them in half lengthwise, and then proceed to cut fun diagonal cuts so that you have 1 1/2" pieces to stir fry in your wok. At this point, I also like to sprinkle the pieces with salt and weight them down between two pieces of paper towel. This gets rid of some of the moisture, and allows them to better soak up the other flavors that we will be adding to our dish, after we've, you know, gotten the rest of our damn act together. 
There are a number of other items that will be joining this Asian wok party. You'll need two shallots, roughly chopped. Then there's also a jalapeno, seeds removed, and about four garlic cloves... all of this minced. Take a big heaping handful of fresh basil, and I've actually used both green, and purple basil for a bit of color. Leave the leaves whole. Then there are the ingredients for the sauce: 3 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce (which by the way is among one of the hardest words to try to spell without completely screwing up at least three or four times), 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of warm water. Combine each of these ingredients into a red solo cup (easy cleanup) for the sauce, and set near the stove ready to go. You'll also need to combine in a separate solo cup (once again, not just for beer pong) and combine 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and 4 tablespoons of cold water and stick this little thickener concoction into the fridge to keep cold. 
And it is now the wok-ing hour. Two tablespoons of canola oil goes into a high heat wok. After washing off the salt from your eggplant, and drying them with paper towels accordingly, throw these into the wok. Stir fry for about three to four minutes. The skin will get so shiny! Now remove them onto a plate, and ready thyself for the next step. 
Grab your shallots and stir fry in the wok for about 1 minute, until they're a little soft, but not caramelized. Take those out and add to your plate of eggplant. Add the minced garlic and jalapeno to the wok, stir those around for about a minute. Now add back your eggplant and onions, and add your solo cup concoction full of sauce. Toss everything around to combine for about 1 minute, and it's time to add your lovely sweet basil. Stir this about for maybe 30 seconds, retrieve your cold cornstarch concoction from the fridge, and add that in. It will bubble a bit in the sauce, and suddenly you will see the entire dish begin to thicken, a lovely coating of sweet sauce hanging off each eggplant as you stir. You're done!
Your rice cooker should have serenaded you at some point while you were cooking, and life is so good. On top of a bit of the white rice, drape your lovely, shiny, sweet eggplant. That sauce will mingle lovingly with the rice. It's sweet, a little hot due to the jalapeno, and you'll notice that the Asian eggplant will have kept its shape nicely, even when being banged about in the wok. It's a lovely savory flavor, and every so often you'll come to the realization that basil and eggplant really are fabulous pairings. Kind of a sweet, savory, salty, spicy treat at the end of the day, and definitely a favorite in our household. Wok out like it's going out of style, kids. 

4 Asian eggplant
2 shallots
1 jalapeno
4 cloves of garlic
For sauce:
3 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup of warm water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons cold water
+2 red solo cups (easy clean up, no beer pong today)

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