Friday, October 2, 2009

Kuo's Key

A number of years ago I got on a Chinese cooking kick. I checked out half a dozen library books, but this is the one I had to own for myself. Sure, you've heard of Julia Child, Craig Clairborne, Marcella Hazan. But Irene Kuo?

She breaks it down and makes it simple. Who cares if the kitchen and you look like a monsoon swept through, the taste test is worth it. Try her recipes and you'll be a convert.

The other night I wanted to do something new with the eggplant I had bought. This is one of her recipes:

Slice one large eggplant in half vertically; trim the stem bits off. Now, make incisions into the eggplant on the cut side in a cross hatch or diamond pattern. Place the eggplant halves, cut side up, in your vegetable steamer (I use the pasta basket of my pasta pot). Steam gently for 40 minutes, until the eggplant is on the verge of collapsing. Move the eggplant to a serving platter. (Good luck on this step. I'm still trying to perfect my technique here.)

For the sauce:

Heat a small saucepan until hot (lots of Chinese cooking seems to ask for this). Add 1 tbls oil (peanut or vegetable) and 1 tblsp sesame oil. After ten seconds add 1 tblsp minced ginger, 1 tblsp minced garlic, stir for another 10 seconds, or until the ingredients release their aromas.
Remove from heat; add 2 tbls soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, stir until the sugar dissolves.

Pour over your steamed eggplant. Serve hot or cool.

The result? Stupendous. I've got to pull that cookbook out more often.


  1. I really like eggplant. Of course, the unworthy dining companions won't touch it. I had this great eggplant dish at My Vegan on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena the other day. Stir fried eggplant, pumpkin and tofu served with some yummy sauce. So, so good.

  2. This sounds very plain, but on the other hand, I trust you. Still, certain people may be tempted to cheat and add cheese.

  3. The littlest thing here might just change a person's life, like, "I use the pasta basket of my pasta pot." Either that or "My Vegan on Arroyo Parkway." Both sound like genius to me.

  4. Marg: Grassroots & now you're hanging at My Vegan?! You sound like a health NUT - not the sweet & sugar addict you portray in your writings. (One of de owners told me he's so popular he wants more space.)

  5. AH--If you're gonna cheat add heat, like cayenne--I don't think cheese is the ticket on this one--
    P: Ah, yes, you can libel us as genius any day of the week.
    CO: We'll see what M has to say about this...

  6. That sounds lovely. Must try.

    I would love it if, after I make a monsoon of my kitchen, some clean-up crew would move through to restore the lay of the land....

  7. MMMM for me this recipe is a challenge! I will post a photo as result! :D

  8. I: would love to see the photo!
    LD-Isn't that the truth? My crew of fairies have abandoned me...