This was a pretty tasty, and easy to make, two-pot dinner (one pot for the stir-fry, and one to soak the rice noodles. You can even make it vegetarian, if you like, by adding extra-firm tofu, treating it as you do the eggplant, and skipping the ground pork.
It’s all good. Except.
Next time, I plan on adding extra jalapeño (or using a spicier pepper) and will most definitely be doubling the sauce – those rice noodles really soak it up!
•2/3 cup cornstarch
•1 tsp coarse sea salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed,
about 4 cups
•Peanut oil (or other cooking oil)
•1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
•2 jalapeños, sliced
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•1 tbsp sesame oil
•1 lb ground pork
•1 cup diced sweet onion
•1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
•1/4 cup chicken stock
•3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
•2 tbsp lower sodium tamari
•2 tbsp rice vinegar
•1 tsp lime juice
•2 tsp cornstarch
Cook the ground pork in a large, straight sided pot over medium high heat for five minutes, breaking the pork up as you cook.
Add the diced onion and continue to cook until the pork is cooked through and the onion tender – with mebbe a few crispity bits here and there.
Transfer to a colander to drain and set aside.
Whisk the sauce together in a bowl and set aside.
Combine the 2/3 cup of cornstarch together with the salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add the eggplant cubes in stages, tossing to coat, then shaking off any excess seasoned cornstarch and continuing with the remaining eggplant until all pieces are coated in the seasoned cornstarch.
Note: if you have decided to go vegetarian, this is the point where you would also toss cubed, extra firm tofu in the seasoned cornstarch.
Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in your large, straight sided pot until it shimmers, then add the eggplant cubes, again in stages, don’t crowd the pot, and cook for about three minutes per side, until all sides are browned and a bit crispity – mebbe three minutes per side.
Remove the browned eggplant using a slotted spoon or a spider to a paper towel lined tray and repeat with the remaining eggplant.
Once the eggplant is done, do the same with the tofu, if you are using it.
So, ground pork and onion, done.
Let’s finish this dish.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a package of thin rice noodles.
Soak, according to package instructions, then drain well and set aside.
Drain the frying oil from the pot (I save used lidded plastic containers to pour cool oil in for disposal instead of dum[ing it down the sink) and wipe the pan out.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in the pan over medium heat, then add the sliced jalapeño, minced garlic, and grated ginger.
Cook, stirring, for about five minutes, then add the sauce mixture and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened, another three to five minutes.
Add the eggplant and toss to coat in the sauce, then do the same with the ground pork mixture, reduce the heat and cook, stirring, just until warmed through.
Add the sesame oil and stir to blend in.
You can serve this over the rice noodles or do as I did and add the cooked noodles to the pot and toss until combined.
Serve with sliced scallion, diced tomato, and additional sweet chili sauce on the side.
Thanks to Jeff Mauro at Food Network for the original recipe I adapted for this dish.