My mother-in-law is notoriously hard to nail down in the kitchen. And by that I mean she doesn’t measure or document any of her recipes. I asked her a while ago to make her eggplant salad so I could trail her around the kitchen with camera, pen and paper and finally capture one of my favorites from her repertoire.
I love this dish because it’s light, flavorful and is a great accompaniment for Chinese, as well as many different types of cuisines. It’s also simple to prepare, so if you make it, your family and friends will think you’re a Chinese food aficionado.
My kitchen notes:
Chinese eggplants have thinner skins and not as many seeds as American globe eggplants. You can substitute Japanese eggplants if you have trouble finding the Chinese variety at the grocery store.
Sichuan peppers can be found in Asian and some upscale grocery stores.
2 Chinese eggplants
1/2 cup water, plus 1/4 cup, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppers
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 slice ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1. Cut eggplants into thirds, then cut each third into quarters.
2. Add quartered eggplant to medium sized bowl and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Add 1/2 cup water to bowl and microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until tender.
3. Sprinkle eggplant with 1 tablespoon sugar and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Add 1 tablespoon canola, sesame oil, Sichuan peppers, smashed garlic and chopped ginger to a small saucepan. Heat over low to medium heat for approximately 5 minutes to infuse flavors. Pour oil mixture through a sieve or strainer to remove Sichuan peppers, garlic and ginger from mixture.
5. Pour oil mixture over eggplant and let sit.
6. In same saucepan, add remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil, chopped shallots and chopped garlic. Saute over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from heat and add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Add remaining 1/4 cup water and mix to combine.
7. Pour soy sauce mixture over eggplant and gently toss to combine flavors.
8. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour if you prefer a cold salad. It’s tasty either cold, or served right away.