So . . . it appears I forgot to update this blog for over a year. This whole time I’ve been thinking “really? My last ever post is going to be mashed rutabaga?” It’s not a terrible recipe, but I only posted that because I wanted my mom to have a place to look for the Instant Pot instructions.
Here’s the broad strokes of what happened over the past year: I changed jobs and love it, I grew lots and lots of vegetables, I canned more than I ever have . . .
. . . and I was sick. Really sick. I don’t know if I’ve discussed this on the blog before but I have psoriatic arthritis. I’ll go a really long time thinking “hey, this disease isn’t so bad” but then I hit a flare and it’s all I can do to get myself to work every day. I can hide how I’m doing for eight hours, but when I get home during a flare, I just go to bed. I was in a bad flare for most of May and April of last year and then in July I went on Methotrexate. Y’all. I know that Methotrexate helps a lot of people out there, but to me that shit was straight up poison. I vomited for days after each dose and it pretty much triggered a three-month migraine. An arthritis flare is bad, but the side effects of just two doses of Methotrexate just about killed me.
OH, and guess what else happened last year? Part of my roof blew off. And then when my Dad was visiting he used my flame weeder without proper adult supervision and set my air conditioning on fire at the beginning of July. And I was without air conditioning for 27 days. You know what happens when you don’t have air conditioning in July? All your Command Adhesive hooks fall off the walls.
Okay, I got my complaining out of the way. Honestly, last year didn’t feel that bad. It just sounds bad when you say that all at once. I also managed to spread three giant dump truck loads of compost, turning my rocky soil into actual planting beds. I did a lot of baking getting ready for Christmas and put up some great new trees. This spring I started more varieties of tomatoes than I’ve ever grown and I grew some vegetables I’ve never grown before.
Long story short, I’m back in a place where I can have enough energy in the evenings to write the occasional blog post. I’m going to try to start back on the blog by writing up the recipes that my friends always ask me for. Today I’m sharing one of those dishes that I make pretty frequently: sesame garlic eggplant. Y’all know I like my eggplant. When I lived in Virginia, none of my local grocery stores carried Chinese eggplant. I’ve grown it myself for over a decade, so this dish was always a summer-only treat. Now that I live in Maryland, Chinese eggplant is everywhere! Not only do we have AMAZING Asian markets, but we have such a large Asian American population in this area that the big box supermarkets usually have Chinese eggplant as well. Another ingredient that was hard to find in Virginia was vegetarian oyster sauce. My local Asian markets outside Richmond were really tiny and just didn’t carry it. If you’re in the same situation, I was always able to find it on Amazon. Clearly if you’re not a vegetarian, you can go ahead and make this with regular oyster sauce.
Hopefully you enjoy this recipe!
Sesame Garlic Eggplant
- Five to six Chinese eggplant
- Frying oil (I use canola but whatever frying oil you keep around should be fine)
- Three cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup vegetarian oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2-3 drops sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
First, you’re going to slice your eggplant. I’ve found that slicing the eggplant into these small planks really helps speed up the cooking process. They’re all about the width of a finger. If you hate frying as much as I do, you’ll want to slice them like this.
Next, you’re going to fry the eggplant in batches. First, coat the bottom of your pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer (see below). This is a smelly process, so you’ll want your exhaust fan on.
Now this next part really, really makes a difference. BURN THE EGGPLANT. I’m not kidding. If I’m in a hurry and I don’t burn the eggplant, this dish is just missing something. You don’t have to burn 100% of the pieces, but you should shoot for at least 25% being burnt. Let each batch drain on paper towels (or if you’re a better person than me, use real kitchen towels).
While one of your batches is frying, you can whisk together the vegetarian oyster sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. Take a quick taste to see if it needs more sugar. Stir in the garlic.
In another bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with just enough water to make a slurry. Set aside.
Add all the cooked eggplant back to the hot pan. Moving quickly, throw in the chopped scallions and pour in the sweet garlic sauce. Stir for about a minute. Add in the cornstarch slurry and stir. Remove from heat.
Serve over plain rice. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top for a little crunch.
I haven’t found a way to make this both gluten-free and vegetarian. If you have celiac (and are not a vegetarian), you can make this with gluten-free soy sauce and gluten-free oyster sauce.
Sometimes you just want lots and lots of sauce so that your rice ends up saturated. On days like that, I double or triple the amounts of vegetarian oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.
Oh, and how could I forget the spice level? The reason I had to make my own recipe for this was because I can’t handle basically any heat (rosacea). Anyway, the easiest way to spice this up is to use spicy sesame oil instead of regular sesame oil. You could also just add in some chili oil. It’s also fairly traditional to stir some chili paste into the sauce when you’re making it.