Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Entries in Cold Appetizer (1)

Thursday
Sep192013

Sichuan Smoky Eggplant with Garlic (Huo Shao Qie Zi)

Again, I’ve been remiss in posting updates to Baketard when we’ve had new dishes I felt were keepers. I could blame work, a constant flow of houseguests this summer, some work and vacation travel, or my own damned laziness. I think you know which one of the above is to blame as well as I do. Hopefully this dish will help make it up to you. I am in LOVE with this cold appetizer.

I’ve posted a few items describing my latest trip to China and the time I spent at the Sichuan Culinary Institute in Chengdu, and I’ve put up a couple of recipes (with permission) while trying to honor the requests from the heads of the program not to publish what they teach at the school (Because if I did, why would anyone go and have that amazing experience for themselves). I completely respect their wishes.  This said, I still have some Chinese dishes to share. 

This summer, we have thrown a few Sichuan-themed dinner parties, taking what I learned during the program and adding in bits and pieces from cookbooks I’ve acquired abroad, notes from colleagues who are always willing to help me look up and translate cool dishes I’ve had when traveling, and of course, Fuchsia Dunlop’s published recipes. This eggplant dish is one of hers, and it’s a regular at our table. Cool, smoky, spicy, slightly sweet, creamy….it’s got it all, is relatively simple to make and I think it’s a stunning dish. I always double this recipe. Always.

The only modification I’ve made is to use Chinese thin-skinned eggplant (which require a greater number as they yield less flesh), and at the end I roughly chop the mixture rather than leaving them in strips. I also don’t bother with removing the seeds. If you do that with Chinese or Japanese eggplant, there isn’t much left over to work with.

Enjoy this one. It’s fantastic.

Ingredients:

2 eggplant (about 1 ¼ lb/600g)

2 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp Chinkiang Vinegar

2 Tbsp chile oil with its sediment

1-2 tsp finely chopped garlic, to taste

½ tsp sesame seeds

2 Tbsp finely sliced spring onions

Instructions:

Prick each eggplant a couple of times with a fork, then lay them on a very low gas flame and allow them to soften and char, turning from time to time for even cooking (this can take up to an hour, so its best done when you have other chores in or near the kitchen).

When the skins have blackened and the flesh is soft and pulpy within, remove them from the stove and allow to cool.

Strip away the burned skin and tear the eggplant into strips, discarding the seeds as far as possible. Pile on a serving dish and pour or scatter over the other ingredients. Mix well before eating.

Click here for a link to the book: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking