Braised eggplant is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Our favorite restaurant, King Yen in Berkeley, serves it fragrant with fresh basil. I picked up long Asian eggplants, fresh basil and green onions (scallions) from the farmer’s market. I added red bell peppers for color and Shiitake mushrooms for their wonderful texture and unami flavor. You can use fresh Shiitakes or soak dried ones in warm water for a more toothsome feel.
I also added a chicken breast for more protein. Vegetarians and vegans can omit the chicken, use vegetable broth and swap hoisin sauce for the oyster sauce. I only add a teaspoon of Sriracha because I can’t handle much heat, but feel free to amp it up.
I got inspiration for my sauce from Martin Yan’s recipe http://www.yancancook.com/recipes/Spicy-Spicy/selected.php?CHOICE=eggplant_w_garlic_sauce
If you don’t have a wok, you can use a Dutch oven. This is even better the next day, when the basil has a chance to permeate the dish.
2 Tb canola oil for frying
1 Chicken breast, about 3/4 pound
1 pound Asian eggplants (long skinny ones)
5 large Shiitake mushrooms
1 medium or 2 small red or yellow bell peppers
2″ piece of fresh ginger to make 1 Tb grated ginger
5- 6 large cloves of garlic to make 1 Tb grated garlic
2 green onions (scallions)
1/3 bunch fresh Thai or regular basil to make 1 cup basil leaves
1 can water chestnuts
3/4 cup chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup )
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons oyster sauce OR hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (add more for more heat)
4 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
If using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water for 30 minutes, then rinse
Remove stems from mushrooms and chop into bite-sized pieces
Peel and grate ginger to make 1 Tablespoon
Peel and grate garlic to make 1 Tablespoon
Chop eggplant at angles into uneven bite-sized pieces. This will prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Slice red peppers into strips
Slice green onions crosswise, Sliver the green parts and reserve for garnish.
Rinse and chop water chestnuts
Chop chicken breast into bite-sized pieces
Pull leaves off of basil stems to make 1 cup of leaves
Mix sauce ingredients together in a bowl
Heat wok and add oil. Stir-fry chicken a few minutes to sear it, then toss with ginger, garlic, green onions and red bell peppers. Add chopped vegetables and water chestnuts and stir-fry a few minutes over high heat.
Add sauce and mix with metal spatula to incorporate browned bits of chicken. Heat to simmering, then lower heat and cover wok. Simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that vegetables are submerged.
Stir in the basil leaves and continue simmering covered for another 3 minutes until eggplant is thoroughly cooked and tender.
Stir in the thickener and bring sauce to a boil until it thickens
Serve over brown rice or on its own. Garnish with a few basil leaves and green onions.