Jul 28, 2013

Szechuan Eggplant with Black Beans

Eggplant seems to be one of those foods… people either love it or you hate it. I happen to love it. This is a twist on the classic Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce recipe that can be found on most Chinese restaurant menus. The restaurant variety of the dish uses only black bean sauce. Here I include lots of healthy beans, too!

When you think of Szechuan cuisine, you may think that it must be super hot. Although many dishes live up to their spicy reputation, there are a large percentage of recipes that use little or no hot spices at all. But the secret ingredient of Szechuan food is Szechuan pepper–the medium that gives Szechuan food the sought-after tingly mouth-numbing effect! Szechuan pepper exudes rich aroma and exotic scent to dishes. I didn’t use this pepper in the dish that I prepared… not quite brave enough! Some popular Szechuan dishes include Kung Pao chicken, twice cooked pork and hot and sour soup.

Of course, when you’re preparing Chinese meals at home, you can control the amount of heat in any recipe. Lots or none at all, the choice is yours.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled or not, your choice. I stripe mine.
  • 2 cans no salt added black beans (Eden brand) NOT drained 
  • 1 head of garlic (yes, one whole head… hope you like garlic!) 
  • 2 cups chopped kale 
  • 1” knob of ginger, grated 
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste 
  • 1 tsp tamari or other low sodium soy sauce 
  • 1-2 Szechuan peppers or 1-2 tsp hot sauce (optional) 
  • 1 tsp date sugar 
  • ½ cup dark beer 
  • ¼ cup chopped basil plus a few whole leaves for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Peel and separate the garlic cloves. Mince about half of them and leave the rest whole. 
    2. Slice the eggplant into fairly large chunks. 
    3. Place a small amount of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan and spread it around using a paper towel, just to coat the pan. 
    4. Put the sauté pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the eggplant and toss well. It will start to stick quickly. Add about ¼ cup of water to loosen. 
    5. Stir the eggplant constantly until all of the chunks have come in contact with the hot pan. 
    6. Then add the rest of the ingredients, except the beer. 
    7. Cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender. 
    8. Add the beer and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or so to evaporate the alcohol. 
    9. Garnish with some fresh basil leaves over a whole grain rice if desired. 

    Serves 4. Enjoy!

    Healthy trails,

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