Monday, October 18, 2010

Pork with Eggplant

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This dish is not so attractive but what it lacks in eye appeal it makes up for in flavor. The pork is tender and packed with a mild salty flavor while the eggplant still has a soft bite to it without being greasy. The addition of vinegar and sugar in the sauce compliment the saltines of the pork while the eggplant picks up and absorbs the flavors of the sauce.

I love eggplant and tonight I used the long Chinese eggplant that has a firmer texture with a tender skin. I cut them into large bite size pieces and soak them in salted water for about 15min. to remove any bitterness it might have then drain them well before frying.

I cooked the eggplant in two batches. Remember eggplant is like a sponge when cooking with oil. Most restaurants just toss it in their deep fryer and what you end up with is a grease filled eggplant sponge (yuck). I like to cook the eggplant by coating the bottom of my pan with about 2 Tbsp. of oil and let the eggplant soak it up without adding anymore. Just watch it so it doesn’t burn; cook the pieces for about 2 minutes per side. This is an important process that gives the eggplant a little flavor from the frying and starts to make the eggplant thirsty so when you mix it with the sauce the eggplant is ready to soak up the flavor of the sauce instead of more oil. If you skip this step the eggplant does the opposite and almost closes up unable to soak up the flavors from the sauce and becomes flavorless with a rubbery texture.

CHINESE PORK WITH EGGPLANT
1 ½ pounds pork butt, sliced thin across the grain
2 large long chinese eggplants, sliced into chunks

MEAT MARINADE
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. sherry
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
Marinate meat in the marinade for at least 15 minutes to an hour.

SAUCE
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 14 oz. chicken broth
¾ cup water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Place all SAUCE ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup and set aside.  Stir well before adding to wok.

To prep the eggplant: Chop off the ends and discard. Cut long eggplant into 2 inch sections, then slice those pieces in half. Place 1 Tbsp. kosher salt in a bowl with the eggplant and fill with cold water. Let soak in the salted water for at least 15 minutes. Drain well.

Heat a wok on med high. Add about 2 Tbsp. oil to the pan and place the eggplant pieces in the wok to brown cut side down. Cook for about 2 minutes per side and transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat until all the eggplant has been cooked.

Add a couple of Tbsp. oil to the same wok and brown the meat well. Add back the eggplant. Stir the sauce to mix well then pour into the wok. Bring to a boil and stir until the sauce thickens. Garnish with green onions.

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