Sweet fried garlic mingles with soy sauce and ginger in the sauce for this wok-seared eggplant. Steaming the eggplant, as opposed to deep-frying it, lightens the dish, which is adapted from a recipe in Grace Young and Alan Richardson's The Breath of a Wok (Simon & Schuster, 2004). This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our November 2014 issue with the story The Glories of Garlic.
- 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. Chinkiang (Chinese black vinegar) or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. shaoxing jiu (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 medium Japanese eggplants, sliced 2" thick crosswise and cut into 6 wedges
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (3") piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1⁄4 cup minced scallions
Stir soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, chile flakes, and salt in a bowl; set sauce aside. Place half the eggplant in a pie plate. Bring ¾" water to a boil in a 14" flat-bottomed wok fitted with a bamboo steamer base. Place pie plate with eggplant in steamer base and cover with steamer lid; steam until eggplant is tender when pierced with a knife, 6–8 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a plate. Steam remaining eggplant, adding more water if necessary. Discard water and dry wok; heat over high. Add canola oil, garlic, and ginger; stir-fry 10 seconds. Add eggplant; stir-fry 20 seconds. Stir in reserved sauce and cook until sauce is thickened, 3–5 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil; garnish with scallions.