One of my favorite veggies (technically, it’s a fruit) is the eggplant, especially the low-muss, low-fuss Asian variety where the skin is thin and very edible. Known as the aubergine if you speak the Queen’s English, this plant is in the nightshade family, related to tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and belladonna.
Last weekend, I found a bunch of the thin Asian style at the local Farmer’s Market, very reasonably priced.
My happily-gotten gains from the Market: a dozen chicken eggs, a half dozen duck eggs, a yellow cuke (looks like a lemon), an English cuke, Asian eggplants, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce (the stuff I’m growing has passed its prime), baby leeks (which I will use like scallions), a bulb of garlic, a purple bell pepper, and a bacon/spinach quiche and two small packs of frozen portabella mushroom sauce made with heavy cream and some great seasonings. This last is intended for use with pasta (the vendor makes home-made pasta, and his establishment is named Fresh Pastabilities) — but I mix it with stir fry veggies or with ground meat, since I’d prefer not to eat pasta. His other ultimate flavor is sage/pumpkin, but that one is seasonal.
So anyhow, I surfed around for a recipe that would have some sort of Asian background, and would have items in it that I already have in-house, and which would be healthy. No breading, no deep-fat-frying. I substituted the baby leek for the green scallions, and I assume most readers will have better access to the scallions (I usually do, too). I increased the garlic, and added button mushrooms, and went with coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. (The tamari I currently have in the house is a little too strong…)
My source website for this recipe is http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/gaji-namul. Maangchi seems to have a wonderful touch for her native Korean foods, and I’ve been wandering through her website a lot currently.
This dish is perfect for a Meatless Monday. Maanghi considers it a side dish, but I’m planning it for dinner for a couple of nights. It is a quick dish, and eggplant is “meaty” enough to be filling. I added in the mushrooms to her recipe since I didn’t want this to be “totally” about eggplant!! There is such a thing as too much eggplant at once! (The dish actually proved to make two main meals plus a side, so estimate 5 or 6 side portions if you wish to do it that way).
4 thin Asian eggplants, cut into about four sections (about 2 inches long each) and then lengthwise once.
4-5 ounces small button mushrooms (if you can’t find small, cut them in half).
2-3 green onions (or baby green leeks), root removed and chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic, peeled, and crushed.
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil (roasted or plain)
3/4 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (adjust up or down according to taste or tolerance)
2.5 – 3 tablespoons of tamari or coconut aminos
You can do the eggplant and mushrooms any of several ways. Steam for about 10-15 minutes in a steamer, then drain. Nuke for a few minutes in your microwave. Roast at 425 F for about 25 minutes with the above oil, covered. Or, grill, with the oil. (I ended up roasting them.)
Wait for the eggplant/mushrooms to cool down just so you can handle them. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl, and shred the eggplant by hand — the author says they taste better this way, rather than cut with a knife — and plop that into the bowl, too. Add everything else — if you roasted or grilled you don’t need to add any more oil. Mix; your hands will be most efficient.
Serve. As a good option, set up as many plates as you will be feeding, lay down a bed of lettuce on each, and add this dish. It’s served warm, not hot or cold (although I did nuke the leftovers to hot when re-heating).