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’ve also made this successfully with large common (button) mushrooms.
I added a chicken breast for more protein. If you have leftover roasted breast you can chop it in bite sized pieces and add it in with the basil.
Vegetarians and vegans can omit the chicken (or swap it for tofu) and use vegetable broth.
I only add a teaspoon of Sriracha because I can’t handle much heat, but feel free to amp it up, adding it at the end to taste.
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.
Be sure to do all the chopping and sauces prep before you start to cook so you’re not all stressed out while you’re cooking!
2 Tb canola oil for frying
1 Chicken breast, about 3/4 pound
1 pound Asian eggplants (long skinny ones)
5 large Shiitake mushrooms or common 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). You can mince a slice of regular yellw onion to make 2 Tb if you don’t have green onions.
1/2 bunch fresh Thai or regular basil to make 1 1/2 cups 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 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 shiitake mushrooms and chop into bite-sized pieces. If using common mushrooms, trim woody ends from stems, then quarter or cut in sixths.
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 onions and red bell peppers. Add chopped vegetables and water chestnuts and stir-fry a few minutes over high heat.
Mix in ginger, garlic, and sauce 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.