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 the veggies from the farmer’s market: long Asian eggplants, mushrooms, with fresh basil, red bell peppers and green onions (scallions) for color.
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, adding it when you add the basil) 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.
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 Chinese eggplants (3 long skinny ones)
8 medium mushrooms (crimini or white)
1 medium or 2 small red or yellow bell peppers
2″ piece of fresh ginger to make 1 Tb grated ginger
5 large cloves of garlic to make 1 Tb thinly sliced garlic
2 green onions (scallions). You can mince a slice of regular yellow 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
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
Peel and grate ginger to make 1 Tablespoon
Peel and thinly slice garlic to make 1 Tablespoon
Trim woody ends from mushroom stems, then quarter.
Slice red peppers into strips
Slice green onions crosswise. Mince the green parts and reserve for garnish.
Chop eggplant at angles into uneven bite-sized pieces. This will help prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Rinse water chestnuts and chop them into halves
Chop chicken breast into bite-sized pieces
Mix sauce ingredients together in a bowl
Pull leaves off of basil stems to make 1 1/2 cups of leaves
Heat wok on high and add oil. Stir-fry chicken a few minutes to sear it, then toss with onions and red bell peppers.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and water chestnuts and stir-fry a few minutes over high heat.
Mix in ginger and garlic with metal spatula to incorporate browned bits of chicken. Pour in the sauce and toss the vegetables to coat. Lower heat and cover wok. Simmer for 10 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.