We planted three eggplants in May, but sadly they were overtaken by flea beetles, a really nasty little pest that devoured the plants. Unable to find an organic solution for getting rid of them, we had to remove the plants from the garden to prevent the pests from spreading. So we’ve been buying eggplants this summer, but the loss won’t deter us from trying again next year.
It’s a good thing eggplant is in season because I’ve been on an eggplant binge. I saw these beautiful Chinese eggplants at the big Asian grocery store for just 99 cents a pound and couldn’t pass them up, or the beautiful black beauty eggplants for the same price. About six eggplants came home with me that day, and Michael was understandably curious about my plans for all the eggplant cluttering the counter. I had grill, roast, and stir fry on my mind.
This recipe comes from Ashbury’s Aubergines, a site devoted to eggplant recipes. I modified a few things, such as slicing the eggplant slightly thicker so it wouldn’t slip through the cracks on the grill, and using honey instead of sugar. The sugar does not dissolve well, and if you warm the honey slightly, it mixes into the sauce nicely.
The recipe calls for one to three jalapeno or serrano peppers, and you can leave in or take out the seeds depending on how much heat you can stand. Though Michael would have loved to take it all the way with three peppers and all the seeds, I stuck with mild and used one of our homegrown jalapeno’s minus the seeds, which gave us a pretty mild sauce. I think we could have added another pepper and had some great flavor. Some Sichuan peppercorns would have been very tasty.
We served it with some grilled pork chops that I also rubbed with sesame oil before grilling, and we thought the pairing worked well. We did double the sauce recipe to ensure there would be enough for the eggplant and the pork. You could also do this with salmon, which has a stronger flavor yet would work well with the sauce.
Kelly of Sass and Veracity is celebrating her 100,000th visitor with a virtual party and a giveaway. Happy 100,00th to Kelly! We’re supposed to serve up a dish that chef Gordon Ramsay won’t hate or might even possibly enjoy. Frankly, I think enjoy is a long shot, so I can only hope that he would run out of expletives before tasting anything I make. We like it, and that’s what counts in my book.
GRILLED CHINESE EGGPLANT WITH GARLIC AND GINGER SAUCE
Adapted from Ashbury’s Aubergines.
1-1/2 pounds Chinese or Japanese eggplant, peeled and cut diagonally in 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 scallions, white part minced, green part thinly sliced
1 to 3 jalapeno or serrano chilies, minced (We used one of our homegrown peppers minus the seeds and thought it was pretty mild.)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or sugar (If you warm the honey a bit, it mixes in easily.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1. Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Bush the slices with the sesame oil and grill over medium heat until they have softened and the purple color is gone. (You can do this step up to 24 hours before serving, just refrigerate the grilled eggplant.)
2. SAUCE: In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, honey, and cornstarch. Set aside.
3. Preheat the wok on high. Swirl in the canola/peanut oil. If the wok is hot enough, the oil should move quickly around the wok. Add the garlic, ginger, scallion whites (not the green parts), and chilies. Stir for 10 seconds, until brown and fragrant. Add the eggplant and stir for 1 minute. Stir the sauce and add it to the wok. Bring the mixture to a boil. The sauce should thicken.
4. Serve hot or cold as an appetizer or vegetable side dish.