Tuesday, February 08, 2005

eggplant in garlic sauce

i will try to cook Chinese food this week, so my children can appreciate more the richness of their heritage.
egg plant in garlic sauce is a Mandarin dish,however, and my in-laws are not apt to serve this for a family dinner. this is just a another favorite of mine from the fore-mentioned Peking Duck restaurant on Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown.
"yu hsiang" translated means "fish flavor sauce" meaning the sauce that is cooked for fish. my favorite way to yu hsiang is with eggplant first and scallops second.

when dry, cloud ears are very brittle. they need soaking in cold water for about a half hour. flavorless, yet they lend a crunchy silky texture to saucy dishes.

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch knob of ginger, sliced thinly
1/4 cup of ground pork
3 medium Asian egg plant, cut in to 3 inch lengths then each piece quartered
1/4 cup soaked, trimmed and rinsed cloud ears
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsps. red rice vinegar
2 tbsps. rice wine
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
2 tbsps. Szechuan chili sauce
1 stalk of scallion, julienned
vegetable oil

sprinkle salt over eggplant strips and let stand for at least half an hour.
drain and wipe with clean towels.
heat a large wok and add 3 tbsps. of vegetable oil and fry eggplant in 2 batches, just until it softens and become light green.
drain in paper-lined plates. remove excess oil and leave about 1 tbsp. in wok. heat to nearly smoking.
mix sauce ingredients: sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, and chili sauce, in a measuring cup. set aside.
stir fry garlic, ginger, and pork until fragrant. return the eggplant to the wok. stir the sauce and cloud ears and pour into the wok and mix well. bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to simmer for about 5-8 minutes or until eggplant is tender. stir in scallions and serve immediately. serve with a huge bowl of steaming hot jasmine rice and a glass of water nearby...
husband pronounced it restaurant quality *blush*.
i will next try this chili-garlic sauce with scallops and shrimps.

from Grace Young's "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen."

this week, through the power of the mighty tikoy post of chef celia to ring in the new year of the rooster 4072 i will be ever so bold (being a Filipino with only a minute quantity of Chinese blood) and post some traditional New Year's dishes for the kids. Chinese-American husband is clueless regarding the recipes and meanings so i had to get a book and do my own research. mother-in-law does not cook for the big family dinners anymore, which is sad as she is a wonderful home chef but also understandable as she nears 80.
Chinese New Year is celebrated by husband's family for the whole month; they try to visit each other and bring lucky money in fancy red envelopes, oranges or mini orange plants, and sweets. we also get together in his parents' home in Boston and share a meal with the whole clan...they might play mah-jong even. my kids are giddy with excitement: they get to fatten up their piggy banks with all the "hung bao" they are sure to get from their elders. wonder if i will snag a few?