Eggplant and pork stir-fry
I love eggplant. I like to grill it, eat it in tomato sauce dishes like the Italians do, make it into baba ghanoush like they do in the Middle East and North Africa, and I love a spicy Chinese stir-fried eggplant. This recipe is inspired by eggplant and pork dishes I have eaten at Chinese restaurants.
Eggplant is an interesting fruit, and in my mind unique from any other type of produce. What else has spongy flesh that soaks up whatever you flavor it with? Eggplants are extremely low calorie but have many health and nutritional benefits. To learn more about eggplant and how to prepare it, including whether or not to sweat your eggplant, check out my eggplant post.
Leeks work beautifully with eggplant. Remember, leeks are dirty and need to be thoroughly washed. See my post on how to wash leeks.
Anolon stir-fry pan
To make this dish, I use the stainless steel Anolon stir-fry pan I won at the Blogher conference. The nice people at Anolon are donating one of these beautiful pans for a Something New For Dinner giveaway. Click here for how to enroll in the giveaway contest. And click here to learn why I like this pan.
You can also use a traditional 14" carbon steel wok to make this dish, or a large skillet if you don't have a wok.
A wok shovel or wok chuan is an essential tool when stir frying. It allows you to literally shovel the food quickly so nothing gets over cooked.
You will need a couple special ingredients for this recipe:
- Chili paste -- I like Sambal Oelek ground fresh chili paste (Made by the same people who brought you Sriracha. Some people think this paste is even better than Sriracha.)
- Toasted sesame seed oil - This highly fragrant oil is used for flavoring not cooking. A little goes a long way. There are a lot of great brands including La Tourangelle, Kevala Organic, and Kadoya. Makes sure you use "toasted" sesame seed oil as regular sesame seed oil has little flavor or fragrance. Refrigerate after opening.
- Rice vinegar - I try always buy "unseasoned" rice vinegar as "seasoned" rice vinegar has a lot of added salt and sugar. I buy brown rice vinegar when I can for its extra health benefits.
Mise en place is the key to stir fry
The key to any stir-fry is to prepare all the ingredients in advance, a concept the French call mise en place, which translates to put in place, or more roughly to prepare all the ingredients so they are ready to go. Chop all the ingredients and prepare your sauce. Put the individual ingredients in bowls so they are ready to be added to the wok as you need them.
When everything is prepared and ready to go, the stir-fry takes very little time to assemble and nothing gets overcooked because you are not preparing the ingredients as you go.
Cook in stages
Stir frying is done in stages, cooking ingredients separately. For this recipe you will quickly cook the pork and remove it from the pan, then cook the eggplant and remove it from the pan, then cook the leeks and chili peppers. Finally you return everything to the wok, add the sauce and briefly stir-fry to combine everything.
Thank you to my friend Lockie who gave me the beautiful dishes in the photographs.
- 5 T soy sauce
- 3 T rice vinegar
- 1 T brown sugar
- 2 t Ground fresh chili paste, such as Sambal Oelek
- 2 T toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 T peanut oil, divided
- 1 pound ground pork, preferably rough cut
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1" ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 1.5 pounds Japanese eggplant, sliced in ½" pieces
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced
- 1 - 2 red chili peppers, seeded and sliced
- 3 green onions, finely sliced (Reserve 2 T of dark green slices for garnish)
- ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat wok over medium high heat and add 2 teaspoons of peanut oil. When wok is hot add add garlic and ginger stirring for a few seconds then quickly add the ground pork. Cook stirring frequently until mixture is cooked about 4-5 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside.
- Add another 2 teaspoons of peanut oil to the wok and heat. When hot, add eggplant and saute until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add eggplant to pork bowl. Set aside.
- Add 2 t peanut oil to the wok and heat. When hot add leeks, chili peppers and green onions. Stir fry until just softened. Add pork and eggplant back to the wok and pour in sauce. Stir fry briefly to combine and heat everything. Garnish with chopped peanuts and serve hot with steamed rice.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH