As somebody who loves to cook, if there is one thing that becomes glaringly obvious pretty quickly, its that things that look simple, aren’t. So it has been for me with making any kind of stir-fry. They are devilishly hard. They look simple and easy to put together and while it is true that you can put a palatable concoction pretty simply, getting the flavors and the crunch right is very, very difficult. The primary reason being that different ingredients have different rates of cooking but since you are making a stir fry on high heat, getting the timing right is tricky, since you have very little time to play with. One tip that seems to work well is to individually prep the ingredients and then bring them together in the sauce. And that is what seems to work beautifully with this dish.
After much trial and error, I think I have finally figured out how to get this one right. The trick is in preparing the eggplant and Tofu separately. The best part is that it is something that can be done fairly quickly and makes for a great weekday dinner. And so, without further ado, I give you Eggplant Schezuan Style…
INGREDIENTS (for 4)
1 large Japanese Eggplant (about a foot and a half long) – use two if needed
Sesame Oil (or Vegetable Oil)
Extra Firm Tofu – half a block – cut into small cubes
4 cloves minced Garlic
3-4 Green Onions – the whites sliced thin and the greens sliced into 1/2 inch pieces – keep them separate
1 dry red chili
For the sauce (mix all the ingredients in a bowl)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup water or vegetable stock
Sriracha sauce to taste – because Rooster Sauce is good in everything – start with 1 Tbsp
1 Tbsp Corn Flour
Brown Sugar to taste – start with a couple of Tbsp
1. Slice the eggplant into chunky diagonal slices and massage some salt and pepper into them.
2. In a skillet heat some oil and sear the eggplant on both sides. You want them to just start softening but not be over cooked – a good idea is to watch the purple skin turn light, that is a good sign that you are done. Keep aside.
3. Heat some more oil in the skillet and saute half the garlic, you can also throw in some chili flakes to make some chili garlic oil.
4. Add the Tofu and pan fry on high heat. Add some Soy sauce to glaze the Tofu. Keep aside.
5. In a wok, heat about a Tbsp of oil on high heat. Add the remaining garlic and red chili. After a few seconds add the whites of the onion.
6. Let the onion just start to brown and add the sauce. Let it come to a boil.
7. Throw in the prepared eggplant and Tofu once the sauce has started to thicken, and bring everything to a boil.
8. Adjust seasoning and serve on boiled rice topped with the greens of green onion.