Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Fish-Fragrant Eggplant & Ninja Ramen

My former landlady used to make this delicious eggplant dish. I'm not generally a fan of eggplant, but this stuff was delicious. It was full of garlic and oil and I did ask her how to make it, but her description was somewhat vague. When I came across a recipe for "fish-fragrant eggplant" in a Chinese cooking thread online, I flagged it as a likely candidate. It's not quite the same, but it is nearly as delicious as my landlady's mystery garlic eggplant.

I'm honestly not sure why it's called "fish-fragrant" as it contains neither fish nor even fish sauce, but it certainly is a tasty way to prepare eggplant!

Fish-Fragrant Eggplant
5 Chinese eggplants
1 c. peanut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. Sichuan chile-bean paste
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. corn starch mixed with 1 Tbsp. cold water
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese black vinegar
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. sesame oil

1. Peel the eggplants and chop into chunks (I went for ~1" chunks). Mince garlic and ginger and chop the green onion. Ready the stock and all the various sauces, vinegar, corn starch slurry, etc.
2. Heat up the wok. Add the peanut oil and fry the eggplant in small batches. Remove eggplant to paper towel to drain.
3. If more than 2 Tbsp. of oil is left in the wok after frying the eggplant, pour out the excess oil.
4. Reheat the oil, if necessary, and ad the chile-bean paste and stir-fry for 30-60 seconds.
5. Add garlic and ginger and fry for another 30-60 seconds.
6. Add chicken stock, sugar, and soy sauce and stir to combine.
7. Add fried eggplant and allow to simmer in sauce for several minutes.
8. Stir in corn starch slurry and cook until sauce thickens.
9. Add black vinegar and green onion. Cook, stirring, until onion is no longer raw.
10. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add more salt or sugar as desired and drizzle with sesame oil to serve.

I found this very tasty as it was. That said, I don't think I could resist trying out a few tweaks the next time I make it. (And there will definitely be a next time!) I think I'd try increasing the chile-bean paste to 2 Tbsp. next time. And I'd like to try adding 1 tsp. of dark soy sauce as well.

TF actually ended up taking over the cooking for the "ninja ramen". It is yet another recipe off of the Goons with Spoons wiki. And one that I've been meaning to try for quite a while at that.

Since the "recipe" doesn't list any quantities or proportions, it took a little trial-and-error to get the flavour right. We also had to make a substitution since I'd forgotten that we were all out of sambal oelek. Here's what we ended up using for our ninja ramen.

Ninja Ramen
2 pkg. ramen
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. Sichuan chile-bean paste
2 cloves garlic
12 white button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
5 green onions, chopped

Verdict: Nice flavour, but not enough of a step up from my favourite instant ramen preparations to warrant the extra effort, I think.

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