Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stuffed Eggplant Dim Sum Style

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There was a request from a reader for stuffed eggplant. This recipe can be found when going for dim sum at your favourite restaurant. Typically, this recipe is quickly fried in searing oil at a restaurant. I've decided to pan fry this instead as a healthier alternative.

There are a couple of points to note with this recipe. First, I've only used the longer variety of eggplant because they end up being an appropriate size when serving. In the grocery store, eggplant may be called Aubergine. Secondly, although the recipe is similar to the Stuffed Hot Peppers recipe, notice that the stuffing in this case is made from a mixture of pork and fish paste. After experimenting I found that this combination provided the texture I was looking for.

To make the Stuffed Eggplants, I used the following:
  • 2 to 3 Eggplants (long variety) - wash and peel off strips of skin as shown
  • Fish paste
  • Ground pork in equal parts to the the fish paste
  • Green onion (for colour)
  • Several dried prawns
  • Cornstarch - as a binding agent and sauce thickener
To make the Stuffed Eggplants:
  1. Peel strips off the eggplant, then slice them diagonally at roughly a 45 degree angle. For the first slice, go through all the way, and then 1 cm (centimetre) away, make a slice 3/4 of the way through. Then another 1 cm away, make another slice all the way through. In other words, every other cut will be only 3/4 of the way through. What we are doing is making an opening in which to stuff the Eggplants. NOTE: By not cutting all the way through, we are ensuring that the filling will not slip out the way a hamburger patty sometimes slides out as we are biting into a burger.
  2. Place the slices of eggplant in a sink of cold water. This will help in the cooking process as well as delaying any browning of the eggplant before cooking.
  3. Prepare the filling by chopping the green onion and dried prawn finely. Mix equal parts of fish paste and the ground pork BY HAND. If a machine mixer is used, the texture of the fish paste will be altered due to over-mixing.
  4. Set up your eggplant filling station by having a small amount of cornstarch ready in a bowl. Use a butter knife and spread a thin coating of cornstarch to the upper and lower surfaces inside the eggplant.
  5. Scoop a small amount of filling and slightly overfill the pocket as shown. During the cooking process, the filling will shrink to an appropriate size. Hopefully you can appreciate how easy it is to fill the pocket since we didn't cut all the way through the eggplant earlier.
  6. Once you've filled all the eggplant slices, you can get ready to cook them. If you have left over filling, don't worry, I have some ideas at the end of this recipe for you.
  7. Heat up a pan on medium high heat and oil lightly. Place the eggplants down on one side and cover the pan. Depending on the thickness of the cut and the ripeness of the eggplant, the cooking process may take 5 -7 minutes on each side to cook.
  8. Once the eggplants are brown and fully cooked, make a sauce by mixing in a small bowl 1/4 tsp of cornstarch, a small amount of water, 1/4 tsp sugar, and soy sauce. Add the sauce to the pan and let it thicken. If you would like, you can add a dash of rum to the pan as well.

As I promised, if you're wondering what to do with the left over filling, flatten it to a pancake and cook it on the pan. After cooking the filling, you can:
  1. Use it instead of cold cuts in a sandwich
  2. Slice it and top a salad
  3. Slice it and stir fry it with whatever else you have in your refrigerator!

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