There are a couple of different ways you can approach this wicked tasty dish…
Vegetarian? No problem! Substitute tofu for the ground pork, or mebbe skip this step all together, the eggplant by itself is well worth the (minimal) effort.
Meat lover? Cool – you can cook the ground pork (or chicken, or turkey) while your salted eggplant is resting.
It really is all good.
•1 lb ground pork
•4 tbsp vegetable oil
•1 eggplant, sliced
•2 onions, thinly sliced
•1 tbsp minced garlic
•2 tbsp soy sauce
•1/4 cup sherry peppers sauce*
•Black pepper to taste
•1/2 teaspoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
*Don’t have (or don’t care to make your own) sherry peppers sauce? Try using a combination of Thai sweet chili sauce combined with a bit of Sriracha, and mebbe some seasoned rice vinegar.
Or… just make the sherry peppers sauce, it’s pretty simple to make, and easy to process so you’ll always have a jar or six in your pantry or fridge.
Slice the eggplant about 1/2 inch thick, sprinkle both sides with salt, and set aside on a large platter to rest for 30 minutes (the salt will draw out a lot of the excess moisture in the eggplant).
While the eggplant is resting, now’s a good time to cook your ground meat (or tofu) in a large skillet until crispy and or cooked through. Drain and set aside.
Dab each eggplant slice with a paper towel to wipe off any excess moisture, then dice the slices into cubes.
Heat a tablespoon or so of veggie oil in the skillet over medium-high heat and add the eggplant cubes.
Note: I like my eggplant to be a bit on the crispity side, so I let my cubes sit in the pan for a minute or so before tossing and turning, then continuing to cook, stirring just a bit, until the eggplant is browned, about ten minutes total. Remove the eggplant to a colander to drain.
Add a bit more oil to the skillet, if needed, add the onion and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the garlic and continue to sauté for another five minutes, until the onion is tender and a bit browned in some parts.
Add the eggplant and ground pork (if using) back to the skillet, then lower the heat, whisk the black pepper, sherry peppers and soy sauces together and pour over all in the pan.
Stir to combine, then allow to simmer for about five minutes over low heat to reduce the sauce a bit and heat everything through.
Drizzle with the sesame oil, give one more stir, and serve.
We had ours over cooked rice noodles and thought it very nice; you could try yours over pasta, rice, flat bread, or even just on its own as a side, I believe you will be pleased.
And, like most stuff like this, it is even better as leftovers the next day, so make an extra large batch and plan to treat yourself!