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.
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