19 January 2011

No Meat Zone Recipes: Vegan Szechuan Eggplant


Szechuan Eggplant
  • 4 TBSP Vegetable Oil (separated)
  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • 6 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • About 3 Green Onions, the tops chopped off, cut into two inch slices
  • 1 Cup of Bean Sprouts
  • 1 TBSP Corn Starch dissolved in 2 TBSP water
For the Sauce
  • 2/3 Cup Vegetable Broth (try to find a broth without tomato paste so it doesn’t take away from the flavor)
  • 3 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Chili Garlic Sauce*
  • 1 TBSP Hoisin Sauce*
  • 1 TSP Sesame Oil*

*Notes about these ingredients – Chili Garlic Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, and Sesame Oil can be found at most local grocery stores in the International/Asian sections. But if you are lucky enough to have an Asian grocer in your town – definitely try there first – they are normally way less expensive.

The first thing you need to do is prepare all of your veggies. Chop up your eggplant into chunks. They can be on the bigger side because they will shrink in the cooking process. I do try to cut them into equal size pieces so they cook at the same speed. I normally slice the eggplant in half length wise, take one of the halves, cut it into thirds (lengthwise wise) and then cut the slices into chunks. Then I repeat for the other half.

Then proceed to the green onions. Wash them well, and chop off the white ends at the top. Cut the green onions into 2 inch slices. Mince 6 cloves of garlic, and measure out one cup of bean sprouts. I normally rinse the bean sprouts in a strainer and leave them until I am ready to add them to the dish.

To prepare the sauce, combine the vegetable broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl and stir.

Heat the wok (or a deep pan) over medium high heat until hot. Because the eggplants are so dry and can stick to the pan easily, I recommend setting the temperature closer to the medium side than the hot side, depending on how your stove heats up. It is better to be safe and you don’t want your eggplants to burn.

Once your pan is heated, add 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil and swirl to coat the entire pan. Add the eggplant and stir fry until brown, about 5-6 minutes. You may need to add a little more oil in this process to make sure the eggplant doesn’t stick. Once they are ready, remove them from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the wok or pan, removing any seeds from the eggplant that may have been left behind. Return the wok/pan to medium high heat. Once hot, add 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the minced garlic and toss for about 10 seconds, making sure to move the garlic around so it doesn’t burn. Add the green onions and toss until heated, 30 seconds. Add the eggplant back to the wok/pan and mix together, about 30 seconds. Add the sauce, making sure that all of the ingredients are covered (you don’t want to leave any of the eggplants out!) Let the sauce come to a slight boil and bubble, about 30 seconds. Turn the stove down to medium heat and cover, cooking for 8 minutes.

After the 8 minutes are up, remove the cover and add the bean sprouts, stirring to cover all of the bean sprouts in the sauce. Place the cover back on and continue simmering for 4 minutes (for a total of 12 minutes).

When ready, remove the cover and bring the eggplants and sauce back to a light boil. Take the 1 TBSP Cornstarch and dissolve it into 2 TBSP water. Cornstarch is not as difficult to work with as people think. I normally put the dry cornstarch into a small side dish, add the water and stir rapidly until smooth. For small amounts it’s a snap! If the cornstarch is still too thick or lumpy, gradually add (VERY little at a time) more water and quickly stir until smooth.

Add the cornstarch to the eggplant and mix well, making sure the cornstarch dissolves completely into the eggplant (you shouldn’t see any white). I tend to stir all the way through to the bottom of the wok to make sure everything gets mixed together. The sauce will boil and thicken into a yummy rich texture. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Szechuan Eggplant is so delicious – especially on a cold night! I call it Chinese Comfort Food. Best served over rice. Enjoy the Happy Flavor!

Recipe contributed by Kristy

Photo credit: Kristy