Eggplant with Chopped Meat

Hongshao Qiez

Flavor: Reddish-Brown: Red-cookedMeal: Easy, Made in Advance

There are some combinations of foods that are so perfect they crop up in many cuisines. Eggplant and chopped meat is such a one. The two have an affinity for each other all around the globe, though the marriage is most brilliantly consummated in Szechwan. Mrs. Chiang’s hongshao eggplant with meat sauce is, quite simply, the best eggplant dish I’ve ever eaten. It’s also easy to make. It can be prepared in advance and in large quantities, no negligible virtue if you are planning a large dinner party.

The recipe calls for 2 medium eggplants. Don’t buy a single large one; according to Mrs. Chiang, smaller eggplants are more tender.

Method

Preparation

½ pound ground pork

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Put the pork in a bowl and add the soy sauce and sesame oil to it.
8 scallions Clean the scallions, then chop them, both green part and white, crosswise into tiny pieces, about ⅛ inch wide. Add half of the chopped scallions to the pork and mix thoroughly. Reserve the rest of the scallions for later use.
2 medium eggplants (1 pound, approximately) Peel the eggplants, then cut them into 1 inch cubes.
7 to 8 cloves garlic Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic into little pieces, about the size of grains of uncooked rice.
1 inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then chop it into even tinier pieces, the size of a match head.

Cooking

5 tablespoons peanut oil Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for 15 seconds, then pour in the oil. It will be ready to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
(ginger and garlic) When the oil is ready, toss in the chopped ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, using your cooking shovel or spoon in a scooping motion to stir them around in the hot oil and keep them from burning.
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste Now add the hot pepper paste and stir-fry it, together with the ginger and garlic, for another 30 seconds.
(chopped pork) Add the chopped pork and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any large lumps of meat that are sticking together and to see that all the meat gets exposed to the hot oil.
(eggplant) After the meat has cooked for 2 minutes, add the eggplant and stir-fry everything over a high flame for about 4 minutes, gently scooping the pieces of eggplant off the sides of the pan and into the middle.

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1-½ teaspoons salt

cup water

(scallions)

Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the eggplant mixture, then continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes more.

Pour in the water and add the reserved scallions. Wait until the water comes to a boil, then cover the pan, without reducing the heat, and let the eggplant cook for another 15 minutes, until it has become soft and has absorbed the flavors of the meat sauce. It will then be ready to serve.

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