Fish Stuffed Eggplant at the Chinatown Restaurant in Halifax
I frequently order dishes I have had before in Dim Sum restaurants as I like to compare and contrast them with other versions elsewhere. I also like it when I get to try new things and the Fish Stuffed Eggplant dish served to me at the Chinatown Restaurant in Halifax was something I had never even seen on Dim Sum menus before. It turned out to be both interesting and delicious.
The Item on the menu was described in English as ‘Fried Stuffed Eggplant with Fish Meat’, which, somewhat unusually provided more information than the Chinese name 煎酿茄子 (jiān niàng qiézi). This simply translates as Pan-fried Stuffed Eggplant, without making any mention of the stuffing ingredient.
Anyway, the Eggplant itself consisted of diagonal cross-sections of the long thin Asian Eggplant which were partly sliced horizontally to form a little pocket, which was then stuffed with a seasoned ground Fish Paste. Once cooked, they were served in a glossy brown sauce, as you can see in the picture.
One thing that struck me was that, though the Chinese menu description indicated that the Eggplant pieces were pan-fried, they looked very much as though they had actually been deep-fried. The texture of the Eggplant flesh, in consequence, was, I have to say, a bit overly soft. The skins were quite tough still, but the soft, slipper texture made manipulating and trying to bite into each stuffed piece quite tricky. In all honesty, it would probably be quite difficult to cook the filling sufficiently during deep-frying and not have the Eggplant become overly soft, and I rather think that Zucchini might be a better choice for this preparation.
As for the fish filling, this was really delicious and had a nice tender but ‘springy’ bite to it. The seasoning was minimal, probably just a little salt and pepper, but the taste was super fresh and sweet. Indeed, I am not sure, but I rather fancy there may have been some Shrimp in the mix.
The sauce seemed to be a lightly thickened stock with Soy Sauce, possibly a touch of Sugar, some Scallion and diced Peppers, along with Chinese Salted Black Beans. It was rich, but still delicate enough to complement, not overwhelm the stuffed Eggplant, and it worked very nicely. While I wasn’t keen on the soft texture of the Eggplant flesh, I have to say that this specialty was really nicely done.