This is a very simple to make, (it took me way longer to write this post than to actually make this recipe) authentic and very delicious Asian style Sweet and Sour Eggplant recipe that can easily be made from the Japanese style eggplants that we’ve been including in the CSA shares the last few weeks (yes, you can also use Italian Style eggplants as well). The bell pepper also adds a nice sweetness to the dish. Sweet and sour eggplant can be served as a side of its own, or over rice as a main.
The dish employs the common Asian technique of stir frying, usually this is done in a wok over a hot flame, cooking vegetables quickly with the high heat seals in a very nice texture and flavor. If you don’t have a wok (we don’t), you can use a large skillet instead.
The first step of this recipe is to whisk together until well blended: about 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons raw or brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons water, and a clove of grated garlic. If you’d like a little spice in this dish you could either add about a ¼ teaspoon of dried cayenne pepper to the sauce – or chop finely a fresh hot pepper and add the desired amount into the stir fry later along with the sweet peppers.
Next, you’ll need to cut the eggplants and peppers up. We used the Japanese Eggplants and I prefer not to peel them and slice them into whole rounds. This keeps the eggplant together well in the stir-fry. If you’re using the Italian style eggplant you may prefer to peel it, and cut it into about 1 inch cubes.
This brings us to the great Salting Eggplant debate. Many, perhaps it’s safe to say most professional chefs recommend salting eggplant before cooking. The purpose of salting is to remove bitterness, and make the eggplant cook more firmly. However, with fairly fresh eggplant this is very much less of an issue – so I usually skip this step and still get great results! However, if your eggplant has been sitting in the fridge for a week or so, you may want to salt, here’s how to do it: Just take a tablespoon or so of salt and sprinkle it over the top of the sliced (or diced) eggplant, then let it stand for 15-30 minutes. When you see water drops starting to form on the eggplant – take them to the sink and rinse the salt off thoroughly. Then pat the eggplant dry, removing as much of the moisture as possible before cooking.
After the eggplant has been dealt with – you just have to cut the peppers in to about 2-3 inch slices and your prep work is done.
Now to the Wok (or skillet in our kitchen) – you’ll want to heat up at least 3 tablespoons of a high smoke point oil – like peanut oil, or sunflower oil – get it pretty hot, but don’t let it smoke. Then throw in the eggplant and get stirring! We want to see the eggplant start to brown, but not burn, this should happen in about 3 or 4 minutes, you may have to adjust the flame down a bit – it’s a fine line between Hot and Too Hot! Also, add a little more oil if you need to. Once you see the browning on the eggplant throw in the peppers and keep stirring for another 3 or 4 minutes.
Now it’s Sauce time! Before you dump the bowl of sauce in – reduce the flame to low and stir the eggplants and peppers around for a minute to allow things to cool off a bit. Now, add the sauce and stir until it starts to thicken. If you start to see a brown film sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a few more tablespoons of water right away and it will incorporate back in to the sauce. This whole part of the dish should take about 2 minutes!
Time to serve! It’s great over rice or as a side dish. To make this dish Gluten Free, all you need is a Gluten Free Soy Sauce. It’s also a vegan dish, but if you want to go the other direction – chicken or pork would be amazing added to this recipe!
Here’s your list of Ingredients:
About a pound of Japanese Eggplant 2ish, or sub one Italian Eggplant
1 bell pepper any variety
1 large clove garlic
High Smoke Point Cooking Oil
1 small hot pepper (optional)
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Raw or Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons Corn Starch
¼ teaspoon dry Cayenne Pepper (optional)