Spicy Beef and Eggplant
This dish is a simple, hearty, peasant-style preparation with strips of Beef, fried twice for tenderness, and batons of slender Asian Eggplant tossed with a pungent sauce of Chili Bean Paste, Sugar, and Rice Wine. Scallions, cooked at high temperature with the Eggplant, round out the dish with a pleasing sweetness.
The chili bean paste used in this recipe is the Lee Kum Kee™ Brand Spicy Bean Sauce. Since this is not especially fiery, I have augmented it with plain old Chili Paste. For the latter you could use any general chili paste such as Sambal Oelek, or even Sriracha Sauce.
The Basic Method
You first want to toss the beef with the salt and cornstarch and then mix everything well so that the starch is absorbed them into the meat as much as possible. Afterwards, stir in the oil to coat the pieces and set aside for an hour or so. The cornstarch will give a coating to the surface of the beef to keep it moist and tender during cooking, and the oil serves to stop the pieces from sticking together when being deep-fried.
Make the sauce by mixing together the Chili Bean Paste, Sugar, and Rice Wine, along with additional Chili Paste.
The beef is first deep-fried at medium heat until it is just browned on the outside, but still largely uncooked at the center. This process makes for very tender beef after it is fried a second time with the other ingredients.
The scallion and eggplant are flash-fried at very high heat. You heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan over very high heat and, just as the oil begins to smoke, throw in the scallion followed by the eggplant a moment or two later. Now, you stir and toss rapidly, letting the eggplant pieces blister and darken somewhat. The high heat will make the onion very sweet and give a nice smoky taste to the eggplant.
Finally, the beef is added back to the pan along with the sauce mix. This just needs to be cooked for a minute or so longer until the sauce is bubbling and hot, and has reduced slightly. Serve this dish immediately.
Your Recipe Card:
Spicy Beef and Eggplant
- 1 lb. Beefsteak sliced across the grain in strips;
- ½ tsp. Garlic Salt;
- 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch;
- 1 ½ Tbsp. Vegetable Oil;
- ¼ cup Chili Bean Paste;
- 1 tsp. Chili Paste or more or less to taste;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar;
- 4 tbsp. Rice Wine;
- 3 Scallions cut in 2-inch lengths;
- 2 small slender Asian Eggplants; cut into 2-inch batons.
- Toss the beef with the salt and cornstarch, stir in the oil to coat the pieces, and set aside for an hour or so.
- Mix the Bean sauce, chili, sugar and rice wine together in a bowl and set aside.
- Deep-fry the beef at a moderate heat until just browned.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan over high heat, throw in the scallion followed by the eggplant, and stir rapidly, letting the eggplant pieces blister and darken here and there.
- Add in the beef, followed by the sauce mix and cook for a little longer until the sauce reduces slightly.
- Serve immediately.