Gentle Readers, this recipe comes at a time of excessive eggplant. One of the most common questions The Practical Cook has to field is “what do I do with them?” Like their friends zucchini, it’s never just one eggplant. Today’s recipe features the little Chinese style eggplants, which you’ll find at farmer’s markets everywhere, and well-stocked grocery stores, too. Other varietals will work, just cut them into bite-size pieces.
Indochine Eggplant with Green Beans and Sausage
This recipe is practically sponsored by Brinkley Farms, from which all the ingredients come. It is well worth investigating your local food sources, because this dish rocks out, if I do say so myself. You can change the flavor profile to suit yourself, this is fairly straightforward. If you want more sweet, consider adding some pineapple juice.
2 lbs Chinese eggplant, cut into bite-size pieces
3/4 lb bulk sausage, hot or mild, or ground pork
1 lb green beans (I used filet beans here, the skinny green bean), capped, strung (take the string off, however you’d like to express that), and chopped/broken into 2 inch lengths
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 or 3 Tablespoons of minced ginger, or to taste (don’t cheat here, use fresh)
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (start lower if you are feeding spice-resistant people or if you’re using spicy sausage, like less than 1/4 teaspoon, you can always add more later)
splash of soy sauce (optional)
2 heaping Tablespoons of tamarind paste (visit your local Indian store for this, or check the international section of the grocery store, could sub black bean paste, I just don’t have any in the house, and this is the Indo-part of the recipe)
1 Tablespoon molasses (or more to taste)
2 to 3 scallions, diced (optional)
rice, to serve with
1. Heat about 2 Tablespoons of peanut oil in a large skillet (one with a good-fitting lid please) over a strong medium heat. When hot but not smoking, add eggplant and saute, sprinkling a bit of salt (around 1/2 teaspoon) over the eggplant and stirring it in while you cook. Cook until eggplant is soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the eggplant to a serving dish and set aside.
2. Using the same skillet, brown the bulk sausage over medium heat. Drain excess fat, add cooked sausage to reserved eggplant.
3. Ad another splash of peanut oil to the same skillet over medium heat (assuming there’s a bit of sausage grease in there too). Saute green beans quickly, for 1 or 2 minutes, and then add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook until you smell garlic, about 30 seconds. Stir and add a bit of water (1/4 cup or so) and cover with a lid to steam-fry the beans, about a minute or two.
4. Add the tamarind paste and molasses, a splash of soy sauce if you’d like (beware oversalting, the sausage has salt, too), and a little bit of water (again, around 1/4 cup to deglaze the skillet and make a simple sauce. Add the reserved eggplant-sausage mixture back to the skillet and stir. Cover and lower heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally and letting the flavors meld for 4 to 5 minutes. Taste for seasonings, adjust as needed.
Top with scallions if you choose, and serve over Basmati rice for more Indo or sticky rice for more Chine. Use chopsticks to eat either way, just because it is fun.
Are you an eggplant fan? What are your favorite eggplant preparations? Post a comment below or Tweet!
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Coming up, Reviews from the Road: SJC to SFO.