Stuffed Eggplant at the Palais Imperial in Ottawa
I tend to prefer using Zucchini when making this sort of stuffed vegetable Dim Sum at home, but stuffed Eggplant is much more popular in restaurants. One of the best versions I have had of this dish was the Stuffed Eggplant at the Chinatown Restaurant in Halifax. They used a fish paste for their stuffing and it was absolutely delicious. The version you see pictured above served to me at the Palais Imperial Restaurant in Ottawa used Shrimp rather than Fish, and, while it was not quite as good as the Chinatown Restaurant’s, it was still pretty decent.
The Chinatown and the Palais Imperial Stuffed Eggplant dishes were both identified on the respective menu by the Chinese characters 煎釀茄子. This simply means ‘Pan-fried Stuffed Eggplant’, but it certainly appeared to me that the pieces had actually been deep-fried. Not because the result was especially oily, or anything like that, but just because the frying seemed so uniform on all surfaces.
Anyway, the eggplant in question was one of the slender Asian varieties that has been cut into sections on the bias and then slit open to make a pocket for a stuffing of minced shrimp. After frying, the pieces were then served in a sweetish, soy-based sauce that worked really nicely. I can’t tell exactly what was in it other than Soy Sauce and a little Sugar, but there may have been a little Rice Wine in there too.
My one complaint was with the quantity of the stuffing. The stuffing itself was actually very nice and typical of the sort you would get in many other sorts of dumplings. It was lightly seasoned and well mixed for texture. Unfortunately, the restaurant was skimpy enough with it to the point that the Eggplant shell rather dominated it in flavor. Still, aside from this, the Stuffed Eggplant at the Palais Imperial was pretty good.