Braised Eggplant with Tofu in Garlic Sauce

Braised Eggplant with Tofu in Garlic Sauce

classic Sichuan dish 

From our
friends at Serious Eats

 

Braised
Eggplant with Garlic Sauce is a classic Sichuan dish that combines soft
simmered eggplant, fermented soy beans, and a sweet, garlicky sauce. For this
version, I like to add a few tablespoons of chopped up preserved mustard root
and incorporate the garlic in a couple of ways: first, by cooking whole smashed
cloves in oil to infuse it with flavor (I discard the cooked whole cloves), as
well as sliced thin and sauteed along with the other aromatics.

Note: Chinkiang
vinegar is a black vinegar that can be found at most Asian supermarkets. Rice
vinegar can be used in its place. Preserved mustard root can be found in the
canned or jarred section of an Asian supermarket, sometimes labeled preserved
or pickled Sichuan vegetable (check the ingredients label for mustard root).
The eggplant can be par-cooked in the microwave if you don’t own a bamboo
steamer. To cook, line a large microwave-proof plate with paper towels. Place
eggplant on top and microwave on high power until eggplant is completely
tender, 5 to 8 minutes (be careful, plate will be very hot).

 

·        
YIELD: Serves 4

·        
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes

·        
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

·        
2 pounds
Chinese or Japanese eggplant (about 4 small), or small Italian eggplant, cut
into 2-inch chunks

·        
2
teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar (see note)

·        
3/4 cup
Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

·        
1
tablespoon corn starch

·        
3
tablespoons soy sauce

·        
2
tablespoons brown sugar

·        
1
tablespoon fermented broad bean chili paste

·        
1
tablespoon toasted sesame oil

·        
2
tablespoons vegetable oil

·        
2 whole
cloves garlic, smashed with the back of a knife, plus 4 more whole cloves
garlic, thinly sliced

·        
2
scallions, whites and greens thinly sliced and reserved separately

·        
2 to 3
tablespoons finely minced preserved mustard root (see note)

·        
1 (12.3
ounce) box firm silken tofu, cut into 1-inch chunks

·        
2 to 3
tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

 

Directions:

1.      
Place
eggplant in a large bamboo steamer and set over a wok filled with 2 inches of
water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover steamer, and cook
until eggplant is completely tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

2.     
While
eggplant is cooking, make the sauce. Combine vinegar, wine, and cornstarch and
stir with fork until cornstarch is dissolved. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, chili
paste, and sesame oil. Set aside.

3.     
Wipe out
wok and dry carefully. Add oil and whole garlic cloves. Heat over medium heat
stirring and turning garlic cloves occasionally until light golden brown and
fragrant, about 5 minutes. Discard whole cloves then increase heat to high and
heat oil until smoking. Add sliced garlic, scallion whites, and preserved
mustard root. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly until fragrant and just
beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Stir sauce to re-incorporate corn starch,
then add to wok, stirring constantly. Add eggplant and tofu and fold gently to
combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, folding and stirring
occasionally until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in scallion
greens and cilantro and serve immediately with white rice, if desired.

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