When Teresa and I were lucky enough to meet Iron Chef Chen Kenichi last year at his Shisen Hanten Restaurant, one of the best moments of the evening was when he brought us into his kitchen and demonstrated an eggplant dish he was making for the staff. (He also gave us a bowl to take back to the table.) The dish was just like Chen himself: spicy, tangy, down-to-earth, and full of authentic Chinese flavor. I will never forget that experience.
So when I picked up his Knockout Chinese cookbook, which is a great little book, by the way, I was delighted to find a similar “mapo” style eggplant and pork recipe inside. It’s simple, fun to cook, and tastes great. Chen combines Japanese and Chinese style cuisine in a highly delicious manner.
I’ve illustrated it here and re-written a few things to make them extra clear. Even if you are not a huge fan of eggplant, I can pretty much ensure you will enjoy this.
You’ll need this stuff. Check your Asian grocery for Chinese eggplant and the sauces.
Chinese eggplant is longer, thinner, and has a a more delicate skin then American eggplant. It’s also less bitter.
Blanching eggplant in hot oil allows the skin to remain brilliant purple while cooking later. It also allows you to spend less time cooking it later on.
Almost done… still needs cornstarch paste and a dash of vinegar.
Ready to eat. (And you know you want to!)
Spicy Pork and Eggplant Donburi
Adapted from Iron Chef Chen’s Knockout Chinese
- 3 large Chinese eggplant, sliced into 1″ half-moon pieces
- Canola or peanut oil for frying
- 8 oz ground pork
- 6 tsp ginger & 3 tsp garlic, minced, mixed
- 6″ green onion, sliced
- 3 TB doubanjiang (chili bean paste) & 3 tsp hoisin sauce, mixed
- 1 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 6 tsp sake (or mirin) & 6 tsp sugar & 3 tsp soy sauce, mixed
- 1 TB corn starch mixed with a little water
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- Steamed white rice
- Deep fry eggplant in 350f oil (in a wok or deep fryer) just until browned, about 45 seconds.
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok until very hot, then add ground pork and stir until broken up and mostly cooked.
- Add the ginger and garlic, as well as the doubanjiang and hoisin sauces. Stir.
- Add eggplant and chicken stock to the wok, as well as the sake, sugar, soy mixture. Bring to a simmer briefly, then add green onion.
- Thicken sauce with starch paste, then add a dash of rice vinegar. Serve on top of white rice.
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