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Ma Po Style Eggplant (麻婆茄子)

I put together the above-pictured dish to try out the Lee Kum Kee Spicy Bean Sauce I featured in ‘Foodstuffs’ post a while ago. At that time, I wrote that this particular product is intended as a sauce for the classic Chinese dish Ma Po Tofu (which I describe more fully in that article), but since I really don’t have a great liking for tofu I decided to substitute eggplant instead…

The Ingredients

  • 2 small Eggplants
  • ¼ pound ground Pork
  • ½ jar of Lee Kum Kee Spicy Bean Sauce (Ma Po Sauce)
  • 2-3 tbsp. Flour
  • 1 Scallion, chopped into rings
  • 4-6 tbsp. Cooking Oil (not shown)

The ingredient list, as you can see, is very simple. Normally, I might jazz things up just a little with additional ingredients or seasonings but the whole point of this experiment is to test the Lee Kum Kee sauce so I don’t want to introduce too many other flavors to complicate things.

The Method

Heat your wok to medium and pour in a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork and stir until it loses its pink color then add the scallion. Stir for just a moment or two longer then remove everything to a bowl, allowing as much oil as possible to drain back into the wok.

Cut the eggplants into medium size chunks and then toss with enough flour to coat them, shaking off any excess if necessary.

Turn the heat under the wok up to high and add 3 tablespoons or so of oil. When the oil reaches the smoking point, add in the eggplant and stir-fry rapidly until the pieces take on a nice golden color. You my find it necessary to add a bit more oil as you do this as eggplant tends to absorb quite a bit and will stick to the pan if there isn’t enough to fry it properly.

Add back the meat mixture and the Spicy Bean Sauce and sir until everything is hot. If the sauce is a little too thick then add a splash or two of water and stir it in. Plate and serve immediately.

The Verdict

This experiment was actually better than I expected. In my ‘Foodstuffs’ post, I said that the Spicy Bean Sauce had a rather fruity sweetness and that this seemed out of place. However, when cooked, this quality was much diminished and it tasted much more like a fairly mild, but decent Sichuan Chili Bean Paste. The overall flavor was very nice, and my wife and I enjoyed the meal, but the proper ‘hot and numbing’ quality still just wasn’t there. I may still keep using the product for various applications, I suppose, but, in the final analysis, I have to stand by my initial assessment and say that it fails in its intended use as a Ma Po sauce.

 

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for sharing a really unusual eggplant recipe.Will try asap.
    Thanks
    Sayori

    August 29, 2012
  2. What a coincident! I just made an egg plant dish with the same sauce but without the meat. I have not posted it yet. Ok, I will not compete with youa, you did an excellent job!

    August 29, 2012
  3. Question: Where do you get all of your exotic ingredients, especially the Asian products? Is it mail order? Do you have an Asian market all the way up in Northern Canada? Did you stock up when you visited Ottawa?

    Also, how are you enjoying your new kitchen? Is it everything you expected it to be?

    So many questions from your nosy blog follower!

    August 29, 2012
    • One of our local stores carries a fairly nice selection of imported foods but most of my stock is either mail order or purchased in Ottawa. I brought back the Galanga from my trip in July. You are only seeing the post now as most of my articles are written three weeks ahead of the posting date….

      The kitchen is great but I am still getting used to the stove and where everything is kept 🙂

      August 29, 2012
  4. Thank you for this. Have you tried using the tiny Sichuan peppers? I usually add those to the oil and other things I would saute at the first, like the scallions. I take them out and then add back in at the final cooking because I prefer not so numbing. In my area, you can also buy a pepper paste made of them – mainly a little oil and the peppers so you don’t get extra flavors like garlic or sweet. The addition of the peppers may help.

    August 29, 2012
  5. It certainly looks great. I enjoy a good Ma Po with either tofu or eggplant (or both – I made a meatless Ma Po tofu and eggplant just last week). I use their black bean paste in my version, and add in my own heat plus some Szechuan peppers for numbness.

    August 30, 2012
    • You used the LKK paste in your version? Using Sichuan peppercorns is an idea I would follow up on for sure and I plan to do a proper Ma Po dish soon 🙂

      August 30, 2012
      • This last time I used LKK black bean sauce (not the red spicy one), Chinese chili sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, vegetable broth, corn starch and Szechuan peppers (if memory serves). Worked out well.

        August 30, 2012
      • The red spicy one is actuallly better than the generic black bean variety …

        August 30, 2012
      • I’ll have to give it a try, then.

        August 30, 2012
  6. I really like tofu, but this was an ingenious exchange. I think the eggplant would be a delicious choice! Debra

    August 30, 2012
  7. I like the look of this, might just give it a try.

    August 31, 2012

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