A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

My Photo
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What I Had for Lunch Today: Sichuan Red-cooked Eggplant

About thirty years ago, there was a Chinese restaurant in Enfield named simply "Szechwan Restaurant." The waiters were crabby and made nasty comments when you brought a kid along; the chef didn't cater to American tastes. No generic menus here. Sea cucumber salad, weird jellied things, stir-frys presented in deep-fried noodle nests, and when they said hot, they meant HOT! They had an amazing sauce they would bring out to make the food even hotter, too. I had never tasted Sichuan food (well, it was "Szechwan" then; Pinyan romanization took over in 1982), and I was in heaven.
Then the restaurant burned down. I inquired in vain for the chef--he must have gone somewhere--but never could figure out where. I visited Chinese restaurant kitchens, trying to buy similar sauces from them (no go!). Finally I hunted down a cookbook in the library--Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook--which had recipes for all of my favorites from that vanished place. I wrote them down and I have been making them ever since. This eggplant dish is one of those recipes.
It's eggplant cut into pieces "the size of your thumb" and stir-fried, then removed. In the same pan, you make a sauce by stir-frying a few cloves of garlic, chopped, then adding a tablespoon of hot bean sauce (I use Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic), half a cup of broth, and a couple of tablespooons of soy sauce. Put the eggplant back in and cook till all the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with Chiangking vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and some of those chives growing next to your driveway. I serve mine with brown rice.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home