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Adding zip to eggplant with Southeast Asian seasonings.

Asian cooks often treat eggplant as a big, absorbent sponge, letting its soft, mildtasting flesh soak up spicy sauces.

In our first entree, from Cambodia, eggplant is steamed, then bathed in a lemoncurry sauce. The second dish, from Sichuan, China, features eggplant slices filled with pork, fried until crisp, then served with a garlic-chili sauce.

In either recipe, you can use the slender Oriental eggplant or the plumper, eggshaped globe type. Look for the chili paste and bean sauce in Asian markets, or use the alternatives suggested.

Cambodian Steamed Eggplant

1 to 1 1/4 pounds Oriental or globe

eggplant, peeled and ends removed

1 large lemon

2 tablespoons salad oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup chopped shallots

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 tO 3/4 teaspoon Asian red chili paste

or sauce, or 1/2 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies

1/4 pound ground lean pork

1/4 pound tiny shelled cooked shrimp

1 cup canned coconut milk

Fish sauce (nuoc nam) or soy

sauce

2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint

leaves Cut Oriental eggplant lengthwise in half if thicker than 2 inches; cut globe eggplant into 1 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Set eggplant in a shallow bowl or rimmed plate that will fit inside a steamer. Place on a rack above 1 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam until eggplant is soft when pressed, about 30 minutes. (Or place on a nonmetal rimmed platter or plate, cover with plastic wrap, and cook in a microwave oven at full power 100 percent-until soft when pressed, 12 to 14 minutes.) Set the eggplant aside; keep warm.

Meanwhile, with a vegetable peeler, pare a few strips of peel (yellow part only) from lemon. Cut enough peel into thin shreds to make about 1 tablespoon. Then ream lemon to make 2 tablespoons juice; set aside.

Set a 10- to 1 2-inch frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, ginger, shallots, turmeric, and chili paste; stir until shallots are limp, about 2 minutes. Add pork; stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and coconut milk; stir until hot, Add lemon juice and fish sauce to taste.

Transfer eggplant to a rimmed serving platter; if needed, drain off and discard accumulated liquid. Pour the coconutmeat sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle with lemon peel and mint slivers. Makes 3 or 4 main-dish servings. Per serving., 298 cal.; 14 g protein; 14 g carbo.; 22 g fat, 75 mg chol.; 108 mg sodium.

Sichuan Eggplant and Pork Cakes

3/4 pound Oriental eggplant (about 11/2

in. diameter), or 1 small globe eggplant, cut into 11/2-inch-wide wedges; discard stems

Pork filling (recipe follows)

Salad oil

Batter (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon bean sauce or soy sauce

1 to 11/2 teaspoons Asian red chili

paste or sauce, or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies

Sauce mixture (recipe follows)

Cut Oriental eggplant crosswise into 1/8inch-thick slices, but with every other cut do not slice all the way through this forms '/4-inch-thick slices with pockets for filling. (With globe eggplant, cut from flesh side of wedge so skin side holds pocket together.) Fill each pocket with about 1 teaspoon pork filling.

Pour 1 to 1 1/2 inches oil into a wok or 3- to 4-quart frying pan. Heat oil to 350[degrees] on a thermometer. Dip eggplant cakes in batter to coat, then carefully drop into oil. Fry about 6 at a time, turning occasionally, until eggplant is golden and tender when pierced, about 2 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; keep warm. Repeat with remaining eggplant sandwiches. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days. Reheat in a single layer in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan in a 4000 oven until hot and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes; drain on paper towels.) Place wok or 8- to 10-inch frying pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salad oil, ginger, onion, garlic, bean sauce, and chili paste. Stir-fry about 30 seconds. Add sauce mixture. Stir until it boils and thickens. Pour onto a serving platter. Arrange eggplant sandwiches in sauce.

Makes 3 or 4 main-dish servings.

Per serving : 29 1 cal ; 16 g protein; 3 0 g carbo.; 12 g fat; 38 mg chol.; 786 mg sodium.

Pork filling. Mix 1/2 pound ground lean pork with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, and 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced.

Batter Mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 cup water Sauce mixture. Mix 3/4 regularstrength chicken broth, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1988
Words:834
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