Eggplants / Aubergines (Solanum Melongena)
Eggplants / Aubergines (Solanum Melongena)
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Strange Flavor Eggplant



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"Gleaming skin; a plump elongated shape: the eggplant is
a vegetable you'd want to caress with your eyes and fingers,
even if you didn't know its luscious flavor."

~ Roger Vergé

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Strange Flavor Eggplant

The Best of Craig Claiborne:
More than 1,000 Recipes from
His Cooking Columns in the New York Times

by Craig Claiborne with Pierre Franey
 Edited by Joan Whitman, 1999, Times Books/Random House


“Barbara Tropp, whose expertise in Chinese cooking came about by way of
studying Chinese poetry and art in Taiwan, explained to us that this dish
comes from the word ‘guai’, which in Chinese poetry can mean ‘odd or
weird’. In cooking, however, ‘strange’ flavor refers to an ineffable and
delicious blend of flavors – spicy, subtle, sweet, tart, and tangy all at
the same time.”

Yield: 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, preferably the Chinese long variety
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 large scallion, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1/4 to 1.2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons loosely packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1 teaspoon Chinese or Japanese sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped scallion, or fresh coriander
[cilantro] sprigs for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Rinse the eggplants and pat dry. Prick them all over with a fork.
3. Arrange the eggplants on a baking dish or cookie sheet. Put the dish in the center of the oven and bake until the eggplants are wilted and collapse when pressed. Turn once as they bake. This will take 20 to 40 minutes or longer. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
4. Pull off and discard the skin of each eggplant. Cut the flesh into pieces and put in the container of a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Scrape the eggplant into a bowl.
5. Add the garlic, ginger, and 1-inch lengths of scallion to the container of a food processor or blender. Blend thoroughly. Scrape into a bowl and add the pepper flakes.
6. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and water, stirring to dissolve
the sugar.
7. Heat a wok and add the corn oil. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring, for about 20 seconds. Do not burn.
8. Add the sugar mixture and stir. When the liquid boils, add the eggplant. Stir to blend. Bring to the simmer.
9. Add the sesame oil and stir. Scrape the mixture into a serving dish. Garnish with chopped scallion or sprigs of fresh coriander [cilantro]. Serve hot, cold, or lukewarm.

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