When early fall rolls around, I'm always in the market for thin, deep purple nasu (Japanese eggplants), which are less spongy, and juicier than the large round American eggplants. The flavor of Japanese eggplants are more concentrated than their American counterparts, and don't take long to cook because the skins are thinner. I experiment this week with Japanifying a Szechuan dish that appears often on menus at Chinese restaurants. It's quick, easy, and satisfyingly gingery.
Unroasted sesame seed oil is the perfect oil to use for this dish because the oil is light, and not aromatic. My one gripe about this dish at restaurants is that sometimes it tastes too oily – but when you use unroasted sesame seed oil, it comes out light, yet still gets the job done thanks to its high smoke point of 410°F for a quick, hot heat, ideal for stir frying.
1 lb Japanese eggplants (about 3-4 eggplants)
1/4 lb pork, marinated in 3 oz sake and tsp of minced ginger, for at least 10 minutes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
3 green onions, sliced
1 tbsp of tobanjan
3 tbsp of unroasted sesame oil
1. Heat 2 tbsp of unroasted sesame oil in wok on high heat.
2. Add chopped eggplants and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan.
3. Add sake and ginger marinated pork to wok on high heat.
Stir fry for 2-3 minutes, just enough for the meat to cook. Remove from wok and put in the same bowl as eggplant.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of unroasted sesame oil in the wok and add the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tobanjan. Stir fry on high heat until you start to smell the aromas (2-3 minutes).
5. Add the eggplant and pork back into the wok, and incorporate all ingredients by stir-frying for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Quick, high heat cooking, is great for those days when there's just no time between, work, household chores, and Zoom meetings. Extra credit for those of you who steamed rice over the weekend and froze a few servings to serve alongside this early fall dish.