What's for dinner: Eggplant with Garlic-Chile Sauce

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Eggplant with Garlic-Chile Sauce

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I love eggplant, but my teenaged daughters don’t. So I had to wait until both were working to make this, one of my favorite stir-fry dishes celebrating the purple vegetable. It’s so easy and spicy-delicious, bet you’ll fall in love with it, too.

Eggplant can be bitter, so salt and then press the chunks on paper towels before frying to draw out any bitter juices. I used Hunan red chile sauce (available at Asian markets) but any hot red sauce will do. Serve with brown rice and an ice-cold lager.

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

4 Chinese eggplants (about 1 pound total), trimmed and cut into bite-size chunks

2 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and minced

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon Hunan red chili sauce, or more (or less) to taste

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

Make sauce by mixing soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, rice wine and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat a large wok over high heat. Add enough oil to come about 1½ inches up the sides of the wok, and heat to 325 degrees. Add the eggplant and stir-fry just until it softens but still holds its shape, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon or strainer.

Return wok to high heat. Add scallion, ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture, and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add eggplant and stir-fry until the sauce is boiling and the eggplant is hot, about 1 minute.  Add chili sauce, if using, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the sesame oil and serve immediately, alone or over white or brown rice.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

-- Gretchen McKay

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