Recipe: vietnamese braised eggplant
This site went through a series of upgrades right before I hit the road, and apparently we shouldn’t have trusted the captcha update because it wouldn’t allow any comments to go through for a day. That is now fixed and I apologize for any annoyance it may have caused.
Earlier this week Jeremy, Kaweah, and I piled into the car and headed south to the San Juans to see what could be salvaged after the freeze. Driving our usual routes, I exchanged texts with a friend who was driving the other usual routes and we were both reporting the same: brown, dead, done. You shouldn’t be discouraged though! There are always those nice little close-up shots of single stands or trees to be had, but we were fishing for the bigger catches.
waiting for sunset, not hopeful (iphone)
the view from where i waited
last light on mount sneffels
I cut my losses and ended the trip early. Jeremy kept saying how sorry he was that the season was so bad and I kept telling him to quit being sorry. Sure it’s a bummer, but it isn’t the end of the world and I managed a few keepers despite the suckage. We (as in Colorado) had two excellent seasons in 2011 and 2012 – back to back awesomeness. Bad years will happen and do happen. I accept that. And if you’re in any sort of business that relies on Nature, you’d better expect it. Not to mention, it meant I could finally go for a hike without hauling all of my gear. So that’s what we did upon our return to Crested Butte.
the aspens are nothing to write home about, but what a stellar view
We’ve also been enjoying evening trail runs since I don’t have to hang around to wait for sunset over gold-draped mountains anymore. The days have been sunny, warm, and clear such that running in the shadow of the mountains late in the day is just the right temperature to start out. By the time we’re done, the world is fading from purple to blue and the chill begins to creep in. It’s the perfect time for a nice hot meal, and I’ve been loving on eggplant lately.
Given my druthers, I prefer Japanese eggplant to regular eggplant. It’s long, skinny, and has fewer seeds. I can’t reliably source Japanese eggplant unless I travel to the Asian markets out in Broomfield (Pacific Ocean Market) or Denver (HMart and other Asian grocers) or find them at the farmer’s market. The ones at the Asian markets are not always in the best shape, but I really wanted to try this recipe for Vietnamese braised eggplant with coconut milk and scallions by Charles Phan of The Slanted Door.
make the vietnamese stir-fry sauce: fish sauce, chicken broth, sugar
bring the broth to a boil, then add sugar
and some fish sauce
Now, it may look like a lot of ingredients, but the prep time is mostly slicing and mincing of vegetables – maybe five to ten minutes. The whole dish comes together in less than 10 minutes on the stove, so this is a great recipe to serve on weeknights that won’t suck up your entire evening.
vegetable oil, water, eggplant, green onions, onion, garlic, coconut milk, chili sauce, chinese cooking wine, vietnamese stir-fry sauce
slice the eggplant
slice the onions
all prepped and ready for cooking
The first step is to dry-fry the eggplant. My mom taught me to do this a long time ago because it reduces the amount of oil that the eggplant absorbs when you stir-fry it. If you’re okay with oilier eggplant, then feel free to skip the dry-fry, although you will want to cook it a little longer (to make sure it cooks through).
dry fry the eggplant, then remove it to a bowl
add the eggplant to sautéed onions and garlic
add the cooking wine and let it evaporate
If you want to make this dish vegetarian, I think it’s easy enough to replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. The only thing I’m unsure of replacing is the fish sauce, but the good people at The Kitchn have a recipe for vegan fish sauce if you are so inclined.
pour in the coconut milk and vietnamese stir-fry sauce
add chili sauce for some heat
and last: the green onions
I pretty much love eggplant any which way, but I eat it most often Chinese-style. This Vietnamese version is both different and wonderful. It makes a great side dish or main dish and it is especially awesome with a bowl of steamed rice (this coming from a self-proclaimed noodle girl).
Vietnamese Braised Eggplant
from Food and Wine
1 1/4 lbs. Asian eggplant, cut into 3 x 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and sliced thinly
2 tsps garlic, minced
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine, sake, or water
1/2 cup Vietnamese stir-fry sauce (see below)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsps water
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
2 tsps Asian chili paste
4 green onions, green parts only – cut into 3/4-inch pieces
vietnamese stir-fry sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsps fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
Make the Vietnamese stir-fry sauce: Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in the fish sauce and the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
Make the eggplant: Heat a large frying pan (not non-stick) over high heat and dry-fry the eggplant in batches if necessary. Just add the eggplant to the hot pan and let it sit for a minute or so until it begins to brown and wilt. Stir it around so other sides get browned for another minutes or more. Remove from heat and empty the eggplant onto a plate or bowl. Return the pan to the flame and heat the vegetable oil on high until hot. Add the onion (not the green onion) and garlic to the oil and stir-fry for a minute. Add the eggplant and stir-fry until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Chinese cooking wine and cook until it is nearly evaporated. Pour the Vietnamese stir-fry sauce, water, coconut milk, and chili paste into the pan and stir it together. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the green onions and let cook for another 30 seconds until wilted, but still bright green. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a side dish.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|fish-flavored eggplant||otsu noodles (sesame soba noodles)||eggplant fries||chinese dry-cooked string beans|