This is a healthier, lighter version of the Chinese classic. The eggplant is a porous vegetable, and like a sponge, soaks up a lot of oil when fried. Roasting the eggplants first creates a very delicate, silky texture. Find the slender lilac or violet Asian eggplant, as they are sweeter and less bitter than the round, bulbous globe variety. Choose a firm, heavy eggplant with no wrinkles. Make sure that you pierce the eggplant several times to let the steam escape. Failure to do so will result in an exploding eggplant in your oven!
- Yield: 4 Servingsas part of multicourse meal
- 3 to 4 Asian eggplants, about 5 oz (150 g) each
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 6 oz (175 g) ground chicken
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar (or good quality balsamic vinegar)
- 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup (65 ml) store-bought or homemade Vegetable or Mom’s Chicken Stock or water
- 1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 green onion (scallion), thinly sliced on the diagonal
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
- With a fork, pierce the eggplant several times all around to let the steam escape. Arrange the eggplants on a sheet pan and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the eggplant. The skin should be wrinkly and you should be able to pierce it very easily with a fork. Remove and let cool on a rack. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, brush the eggplants with the sesame oil. Hold the eggplant by the cap and insert a bamboo skewer or toothpick right under the cap and slide down to create long strands. Cut the cap off and discard if you’d like.
- Spread the ground chicken out onto a cutting board. Use your cleaver or chef’s knife to rat-tat-tat chop and mince the ground chicken further. Ground chicken has little fat, and mincing will help loosen up and create a lighter texture.
- In a small bowl, mix together the wine, black vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and stock or water.
- Set a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. When a bead of water sizzles upon contact and evaporates, add the cooking oil, swirl to coat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Pour in the rice wine mixture and add the cooked eggplant. Cook for 1 minute. Scatter green onions on top.