My previous experimentation with eggplants scorched them on an iron skillet to create this wonderful smoky baba ghanoush, so I was a little worried about the gentle steaming I was in for with these guys. Well, only slightly worried considering Jean-Georges Vongerichten penned the recipe. This comes from his Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges. I jumped on it because it’s one of the very few recipes in the book that could be done fairly quickly and without thirty ingredients.
There was only one ingredient I couldn’t find. The recipe calls for Shaoxing wine, but my humble Mid-West wine store didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. I wasn't sure quite what to do, so I did what I would normally do for a wine I couldn't find: I used vermouth. I’m pretty sure the characteristics didn’t match up, but you can’t really deny the majesty of these eggplants. Just after a quick dip in this sauce, they picked up this wonderful depth and heat. It’s quite different than the scorched skin method, and a vast improvement over this Jacques Pepin recipe I tried last year.
- 1 pound Japanese eggplants, stems removed
- 1 teaspoon peanut oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon chili paste
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dry vermouth
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. And then cut those pieces in half crosswise.
When ready, set a steamer basket or some device above the boiling water. Toss in the eggplants and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes.
While that’s cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the garlic and cook 4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the garlic to a large bowl.
Add the scallion, chili paste, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and vermouth to the large bowl. Mix until combined.
When the eggplant is done, toss in the large bowl and gently toss together. Serve while warm.