Sweet and Sour Eggplant

IMG_1871An easy, healthy (uh, except for the sugar, I guess) meal.

Sweet and Sour Eggplant, adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • scallions (optional)
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 t. brown sugar
  • 2 t. rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper (or red chile flakes)
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 3 T. vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil, which has a high smoke point)
  • 1 t. toasted sesame seeds (find them in the Asian aisle of your supermarket)
  • rice

Instructions:

1) Make your rice.  Although I love brown rice, I make white rice with this, in my rice cooker.

2) Cut your eggplant into cubes.  The original recipe asks you to salt the eggplant cubes, leave them for 30 minutes, then rinse and dry them.  I did it the first time I made this and have skipped it since.  I can’t taste the difference so I don’t bother.

3) Make your sauce. Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and cornstarch.  Note that the original recipe and every other recipe known to man asks you to dissolve the cornstarch in a little water and then add it to the mixture.  But if you can dissolve cornstarch in water, why can’t you dissolve it in soy sauce and vinegar?

4) Heat the pan until very hot and then add oil.  Add eggplant cubes and cook, stirring frequently so the eggplant doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes.  (If you get your pan really hot before adding the oil, the food you cook will be less likely to stick.)

5) No, I haven’t forgotten about the red bell pepper.  Now that you’ve cleared your cutting board of the eggplant cubes, cut the bell pepper into strips, then cut the strips in half.  When the eggplant is done cooking, add the red pepper strips and cook for another 5 minutes.  Last time I also added scallions, which was a good addition.

6) Lower heat and add the sauce.  It should turn thick almost immediately.  Cook for a minute or two.

7) Serve over rice and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.  Don’t be tempted to skip the sesame seeds, thinking it’s just garnish.  The sesame seeds are delicious on this dish.

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