Friday, May 24, 2013

Braised Eggplant, Tofu Crumbles and Mushrooms

Braised Eggplant, Tofu Crumbles and Mushrooms

A couple of years back, our youngest son was in Beijing, China for a year, teaching English and my tasting partner and I had the opportunity to visit him.  The experience was amazing.  Thankfully, our son was able to read and speak some Mandarin because otherwise we would have been lost.  While we were there we had the opportunity to eat out in restaurants and small, local cafes which would often have more traditional meals like you might find in homes.  Because of that experience, I am more interested in traditional Chinese cooking and when I saw this recipe in Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times Sunday magazine, I had to try it, with the obligatory conversion to make it acceptable to my tasting partner and his 'vegan at home diet'.  It is based on a recipe from the new book “The Hakka Cookbook” by Linda Lau Anusasananan.  I added vegetable crumbles in place of ground pork and to be honest, you could not tell the difference.  My tasting partner remarked on the rich aroma when he came home and had seconds at dinner.  I also served rice and sauteed Brussels sprouts and onions in olive oil.  An excellent meal, one my tasting partner hopes I repeat.

recipe after the jump

Braised Eggplant, Tofu Crumbles and Mushrooms

About 30 minutes

12 ounces Asian eggplant or globe eggplant (see note)
6 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 oz tofu crumbles (I used Smart Ground original veggie protein crumbles)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 dried small hot red chilies, sliced
3 ounces enoki mushrooms, trimmed of ends, rinsed and separated (or other small mushrooms)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro


Trim off the stem ends from the eggplant. If using Asian eggplant, slice into 2-inch lengths, and then cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. If using globe eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

In a small bowl, mix the wine, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, pepper and 2/3 cup of water.

Place a wok or a large frying pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, after about 1 minute, add 4 tablespoon of the oil and rotate the pan to spread. Add garlic, chilies and eggplant; stir-fry until the eggplant begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add tofu crumbles and break up pieces.  Stir.

Add the water mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft when pressed, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, and remove from the heat. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro.

Note: Slender Chinese or Japanese eggplants hold their shape better and are less seedy than larger, more common globe eggplants.

2 to 3 servings as a main dish

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Onions

12-14 Brussels Sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise, then julienned lengthwise 
1 onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons of olive oil

Pour oil in frying pan and heat to medium high.  Add julienned Brussels sprouts and chopped onions, and cook 8-10 minutes until it begins to caramelized.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes more until most of the vegetables have softened and caramelized.

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