We dig the Japanese version of Mapo Tofu a lot ever since the missus and I tried our first in Japan. The slightly salty, slightly spicy, and flavorful modified mapo sauce just goes so well with the silky Japanese tofu. However, beside the high in protein tofu, we think eggplant is also a perfect replacement if you are craving for something different. Thus, we have come out with our own version of Japanese Mapo Eggplant.
To make a good plate of Mapo eggplant, we would need to slightly char the eggplant to create a nice texture. However, it is not easy to fry eggplant as it absorbs oil like a cotton ball. If you are not careful, you might end up with a greasy plate of stir-fried eggplant.
So, why do eggplant adsorbs oil so easily? Eggplant has a soft and spongy flesh that consist of tiny air pocket in it, which easily absorbs hot oil liquid when frying. To avoid greasy eggplant, we would need to go easy on the oil and break down the air pocket by sweating it. Here is how we do it:
- We start by rinsing the eggplant and cut it into equal size pieces.
- Place them on a tray and sprinkle coarse salt all over them and let it sit in fridge for about half an hour. This is what it is known as sweating process. The salt would draw out the moisture from the flesh of the eggplant and sort of break down the eggplant internal structure.
- After the sweating process, wipe them dry with kitchen towel and coat them with some starch.
- Non-stick pan is essential here. We need as minimal oil as possible and we do not want our eggplant to stick on the pan when we fry them with minimal oil.
- Char every side of them and we are done.
When the eggplants are well prepared, the rest is just simple tasks of preparing the mapo sauce and stir-frying.
- Non-stick frying pan for charring the eggplant
- Wok or pan for stir-frying
- Kitchen towel
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1/2 inch Ginger
- 1 Spring onion
- 250-300 g Eggplant
- 100-150 g Minced pork
- 1 tbsp Corn starch
- Coarse salt
- 1-2 tbsp Cooking oil (for frying eggplant)
- 1 tbsp Spicy bean paste
- 1 tbsp Bean paste
- 1 tbsp Miso paste
- 1 tbsp Sake
- 1 tbsp Oyster sauce
- 1 tsp Sesame oil
- 1 tsp Corn starch (as thickening agent)
- 30 ml Water
- 1 tsp Sesame seeds (optional)
- A bit of soy sauce (optional)
- Start by preparing the sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix them well. Set it aside.
- Dice the spring onions, finely chop the garlic and ginger. Set them aside for later.
- Cut the eggplant into equal size. Spread them on a tray and sprinkle coarse salt all over them. Let them sit in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, moisture could be seen on the eggplant. Pat them dry with kitchen towel and slightly coat them with corn starch.
- Heat about 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil in a non-stick pan, on medium high heat. Fry all of the cut eggplants until all surfaces are charred. Set them aside.
- In a bigger pan, Sauté ginger and garlic on medium high heat.
- When fragrant, add the ground pork in.
- When the pork is cooked and no longer pink in colour, add the sauce in and give it a toss and let it boils.
- Add the eggplant in and about 3 quarters of the diced spring onion in. Stir-fry it for about half minute and we are done!
- Serve it on a nice plate and sprinkle the remaining spring onion on top.