Spicy Chinese Eggplant
Relish editor Jill Melton learns the art of Chinese cooking at the hands of an expert.
After a week in China, I can’t say I’m good at using chopsticks, but I certainly had lots of practice. Chopsticks, tea and stir-fries (served on big lazy susan’s) were in abundance the week I spent in Shanghai. And street food. With an adorable guide from a tour group specializing in food called Edible Shanghai, I ate my way through all manner of pancakes, buns, noodles and dumplings.
After a hot day of nibbling more than 15 items (accompanied by warm, fresh soy milk) we grabbed a couple of (cold) Tsingtaos and headed down an alley and up some stairs to a private cooking class at the Chinese Cooking Workshop.
Chef Huang had our ingredients set out and ready for us. After we boned a chicken leg, grated ginger and chopped eggplant, he demonstrated all the dishes for us before we went to work on them ourselves. With lightening speed, he moved between the wok and the sink, adding, stirring and flipping ingredients over the heat.
One of the dishes we made was Chinese eggplant in a spicy soy sauce. Chinese eggplant is pink, slender and smaller than the large black Italian eggplants found in the States. We chopped it into triangular chunks, stir-fried it in oil, then draped it in a spicy sweet soy-infused sauce. (Food in Shanghai is decidedly sweet rather than spicy.) I don’t know about you, but I find eggplant a bit of a challenge to cook. This was definitely some of the best eggplant I’ve ever had.
—By Jill Melton, Relish Editor