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…
- 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.
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.
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.