What to do with eggplant from the garden: A delicious and spicy answer
For a number of summers, my husband and I would run into the same problem. What should one do with all of the eggplants from the garden? The first answer I usually hear is baba ganoush, which is a great option. I’ve often suggested my Smoked Eggplant Dip for something more unique. But sometimes you just want to enjoy a piece of eggplant without blending. And that’s where my Spicy Garlic Eggplant comes in.
This Spicy Garlic Eggplant recipe steams julienne-cut eggplants to a delightfully soft, yet still bite-able texture, then adds a spicy soy, garlic, and oil sauce to give a powerful flavor. If you’re a fan of slightly spicy food, you’ll love this immediately. I tend to avoid spicy food, but this Spicy Garlic Eggplant is well worth an exception! Once you start eating, you won’t be able to stop, and you’ll find yourself trying to work this side dish into every meal.
How to steam eggplant
It took me a surprisingly long time to start steaming vegetables on the stove. Typically I’d just buy a steamer bag of frozen vegetables. Then one year I got a steamer basket as part of a set of pots and I had to google what it was! But now I love this steamer basket, and I can steam anything from eggplants to Japanese Pork Buns.
To steam eggplant, first set up your steamer basket. In a medium sized pot, add 2 cups of water. Carefully place your steamer basket on top. You want the water to be under the bottom of the basket. It should not touch the basket or the food that you’re steaming. Now place your sliced eggplant into the steamer basket, cover with the pot’s lid, and place over medium-high heat. The steaming begins faster than you would think, so start your timer when you turn on the heat. For this recipe, the eggplant steams in 8-10 minutes, however if you’re steaming thicker pieces of eggplant it will likely take longer.
One important tip that I’ve found is that the lid does not have to sit tightly on your pot. If it sits tightly you will see the steam venting from the steam hole, but as long as the lid is on the pot, it will still steam. If you’re worried, check your eggplant more frequently with a chopstick. You will quickly notice that it gets easier each time to insert the chopstick through the eggplant.
Equipment and Mixing Tips
Here are a few tips that may be helpful when making this recipe.
- Use a glass or heat proof bowl for mixing your eggplant. You’re going to pour smoking hot oil into this bowl, and you don’t want it to melt. If you wouldn’t pour boiling hot oil into it, don’t use it for this recipe.
- I recommend using a small pot to heat the oil. The more surface area you have, the faster the oil will start to smoke. While that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, it leaves no time for mistakes or to take your eyes off the oil. The smaller surface area also means there’s less for the oil to cling to, so you will have more oil going into your eggplant.
- Use a rice paddle enough for mixing this recipe. The steamed eggplant is easily broken or mushed, and that won’t be as good as whole pieces of eggplant. The rice paddle is wide and relatively flat, allowing you to get right under each piece of eggplant and turn it without breaking.
How can I serve Spicy Garlic Eggplant?
When I make this Spicy Garlic Eggplant, I usually serve it with a Pork Tonkatsu and rice. And, since this dish is also delicious cold, I usually serve it hot and fresh the first day, and cold the second day. This dish will make a stunning addition to any meal.
How to make Spicy Garlic Eggplant
Spicy Garlic Eggplant
- 1 steamer basket
- 12-16 oz eggplant
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp red chili flakes
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- Remove the top and bottom ends of your eggplant then cut in half crosswise. Cut each half into medium sized strips.
- Fill a pot with 2 cups of water and place your steamer basket into the pot. If the water is above the bottom of the steamer basket, remove some water. Add your eggplant to the steamer basket and steam for 8-10 minutes on a medium-high heat.
- Check your eggplant regularly as it steams by poking it with a chopstick. When the chopstick goes through easily, with basically no force, turn off the heat and remove the steamer basket.
- Transfer the eggplant to a glass or heatproof bowl. Do not use a plastic bowl!
- Add to the eggplant the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and sugar. With a wide mixing spoon or rice paddle, gently combine until well mixed.
- In this order, top the eggplant mixture with red chili flakes, garlic, and pepper. Do not mix yet!
- In a small pot, heat the 2 tbsp canola oil over high heat. Keep a close eye on it and as soon as you see a light smoke, turn off the heat and immediately pour the oil over the garlic and chili flakes.
- Mix gently again and you’re ready to serve! This dish can be served hot or cold.