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Szechwan Eggplant Trick

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Some may cry fie on me as a heretic, but I was overjoyed by the success of my experiment yesterday. Instead of wokking the eggplant until tender in oodles of oil, I sliced it crosswise into quarter-inch pieces, brushed both sides sparingly with safflower seasoned with a few drops of sesame oil, and grilled it under the broiler for about five mins on each side until tender. I then wokked it briefly with minced fresh ginger, garlic, red hot pepper, and soy sauce. It was delicious (the ginger is what gets me off, as I have noted here before), and only required about 2 tbsp oil max (including final wokking) instead of the usual half bottle. Hardly traditional, but, personally, I need to eat more eggplant and less oil.

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  1. Thanks for the tip! I, too, hate drinking a cup of oil with my eggplant.

    1. Amanita,
      Thanks from me, too. I have also grilled eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2" slices, and brushed with a bit of olive oil, to reduce the calorie count.
      I love Szechwan Eggplant, and will have to try your trick on the Ichibans proliferating in my garden.
      p.j.

      1. I also like broiling or grilling whole eggplants until thoroughly charred and softened. Then I let them cool, and peel and rip the flesh into strips with my fingers (wow, so violent-sounding!). I then proceed with the stir-frying. It's a different texture than slices but really delicious (a bit smoky), and the prep is easy. I got the idea from a Deborah Madison eggplant recipe.

        1. What a great idea. Szechuan eggplant is my go to dish when I feed vegetarians since it's very simple to pull out part of the eggplant before returning the pork to the pan, and this no-oil technique means I can season it with toasted sesame oil during the final stir.

          1. Yeah, considering how little nutrition is actually in eggplant.

            I use Japanese eggplants, slice crosswise 1/2-to-1-inch, and cook one of two ways:

            I arrange cut-side-down in a flat skillet with a bit of oil and cook medium-low, covered, with a bit of soy sauce - serve hot or cold.

            Or microwave just a bit to get most of the cooking done, then finish as a stir-fry from the point of adding the sauce ingredients.