A month ago, I made this Vietnamese Vegetarian Crispy Chow Mein recipe for a blog event. However, we were so hungry by the time it was ready, that I skipped taking pictures of it and never submitted it to the event.
I thought it was really tasty, but my son didn’t like the vegetables in it, picky vegetarian kid that he is. So, I decided to make the sauce again, but serve it with eggplant. He likes eggplant thanks to the influence of his girlfriend. (Hi, J.!) She got to sample some, too.
I learned the steam-fry technique from a dumpling recipe. When eggplant is cooked this way, it doesn’t absorb too much oil, and results in meltingly tender slices.
Eggplant in Black Bean Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water
2 tablespoons black bean sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 green onion, white and green parts, sliced
1 large globe eggplant or 1 pound Chinese or Japanese eggplant
½ red bell pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons oil
In a small saucepan, stir together the cornstarch and a couple of tablespoons of water to make a paste. Add the remaining water, black bean sauce and soy sauce. Heat over medium until sauce thickens. Stir in green onion and set aside.
Slice eggplant into rounds ½ to ¾ inch thick. If your slices are large, cut them into half circles. Cut red bell pepper into short, thin strips. In a skillet with a close-fitting lid, heat a tablespoon of oil to medium-hot. Add about half the pepper and eggplant in a single layer. Flip over the eggplant immediately to evenly distribute the oil to both sides. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan and cover. Steam for 3 minutes, turn the slices over, cover, and steam for another 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices.
Add sauce to eggplant and peppers, heat and serve.