Saturday, October 8, 2016

Chinese Eggplant with Pork and Garlic and China!


              "To hear about something a thousand times is not as good as experiencing it once."
                                                           (Ancient Chinese Proverb)

It seems I go away for a bit and I come back and the world has changed. Well, sort of. Yes, our candidates are still going at it, but jeez, this thing with Brad and Angelina took me by surprise. Additionally, in my absence Fall has arrived and my yard has gone from green to gold. Time flies when you are in another world. And yes, China is another world.

I've had the opportunity to travel a bit and I must say that China is a place unto itself. I've been to South Africa twice, Israel three times, Europe, Costa Rica, Australia, Tahiti, and all over the US, but nothing has quite thrown me like China. China is an in your face kind of place. It never stops. Between the noise and the smell (I swear everything smells like 5 spice unless you are smelling the making of tofu milk, which I thought was garbage until Alex told me that was how it smelled!) and the people and the pollution at all times of day; China just never slows down. Waking up to air that is described in the press as very unhealthy is a new experience. You will see from my photos the sky is kind of hidden. Truly. And the humidity. Well. I am a girl that sweats and let me tell you- I did.

This trip really couldn't have happened without Alex Odie San China Boy. Having someone that is fluent in Mandarin made this trip possible. Otherwise it would have been tour buses for us. Watching Alex "at work" was a lot of fun, though I know he wasn't always thrilled with his position. Taking care of three people who are all type "A's" is not an easy job, and keeping his group from wandering side alleys or into the depths of malls was challenging...but somehow we all made it through every airport, train and boat trip together.


Food is everywhere and every place is crowded at every time of day. We did a lot of searching on different web sites to find the best places to eat; however finding their physical locations was never easy. Often they are located in malls. Surprisingly we had many of our best meals in malls! Often restaurants are located two or three floors above the street so we found ourselves looking up a lot. And sometimes they were in alleyways. Like I said...without Alex searching or ordering we would have been stuck to the basics! We also learned that Alex is partial to restaurants with old neon signs and there aren't many of those left.

There is so much to talk about but I thought I'd share a few highlights and start delving a bit into what we learned. We tried to be good students but I'm not sure that Alex thought so. So! Let's start with some easy stuff like eating. We all know how to do that right? Well, in China it is very important to take charge of your chopsticks. They must be aligned and some of us may have had a problem with this but we won't name names. Some how the food still got to their mouth. Chopsticks must never touch the table. Each place setting always has a plate, a bowl and a cup. I still am not sure what went in the bowl or on the plate because if you ordered soup they always brought soup bowls, but we didn't order soup often, because it was so hot outside!


Eating in China is a bright experience; kind of like eating in the senior center where my parents live. The lights are never dimmed. There is no atmosphere. There are also no napkins unless you call tissues napkins. And if there are no tissues on the table, you have to buy them. If there is a waste basket at your table you must throw your dirty tissues into the can when you are finished eating. If there isn't a can they will take them when they clear the table.

Dishes are not cleared until you leave, which means your table gets very full of platters and empty or not they will stay there until you leave. Even if there appears to be no room on the table, if a new dish appears they scrunch everything together to have room for that platter.This was a hard one for me because aesthetically eating in China, is not always so pleasing to the eye. Dishes appear as they are cooked which often means one at a time and in no particular order. Rice is always ordered extra and served at the end of the meal. And if you should happen to drop some food on the table never under any circumstances proceed to eat it. This is a no no! It should stay in that spot until you leave, or in my case I would cover it with tissues and pick it up and move it to another dirty plate.

All that being said, we had awesome meals in China. We never got sick and we ate everything. Food was for the most part very cheap. We all commented that after three weeks we had not eaten the same thing twice. My favorite day with Alex was going to all of his street food places. We ate jao bing and scallion pancakes and buns and Taiwanese rice rolls and crab dumplings and pastries and wine and more pastry and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. We never drank the water as all water must be boiled, though for some odd reason folks do rinse their fresh veggies with it. We did eat a lot of fresh cucumber salads with many of our meals. Often they were tossed with a chili sesame dressing. So good.


Eggplant was often on our menus as were lots of vegetable dishes. Potatoes were also quite common which is kind of funny considering you never see them in Chinese restaurants here. They were often prepared with chilies and onions but we did see them roasted too. Sweet potatoes are also sold roasted on the street. Can't wait to experiment with some new potato dishes!


But today I bring you eggplant. Given the abundance of my eggplant plants, I made this recipe before I left, I guess in anticipation of what I'd find in China. This is a great recipe and so easy to prepare. Like all Asian recipes make sure everything is ready to go before you start cooking.

I know you'll love this eggplant, but I promise this won't become a Chinese recipe blog! I'm so anxious to get cooking some great Fall foods!




Chinese Eggplant with Pork and Garlic
Serves 4 or 2 as a main course
From: Food 52-A Genius Recipe
Time to Make: About 20 minutes
Ingredients:
2 ounces ground pork
2 t plus 1/4 c minced scallions, divided
1 t plus 3 T low soy sauce, divided
1/2 t minced ginger
1 t plus 1/4 peanut or vegetable oil, divided
1 T chopped garlic, plus 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed, divided
3 Asian eggplants weighing about 1 lb total, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2" thick slices, about 6 cups
1/4 c rice wine or dry sherry
1/2 t sugar
Directions:
1. In a small bowl combine the pork and 1 t cold water. Stir in 2 t of the scallions, 1 t of the soy sauce and ginger. Add 1 t cold water and stir until the pork absorbs all of the water. In a small bowl combine the remaining 3 T of soy sauce and 1/4 c cold water.
2. Heat a 14" flat bottomed wok or 12" stainless skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1-2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 t of oil and add the pork mixture, using a metal spatula to break up the pork. Stir fry 30 seconds or until the pork is opaque, but slightly rare. Transfer the pork to a plate.
3. Swirl in the remaining 1/4 c oil and heat for a few seconds or until hot, but not smoking. Carefully add 1 T of the chopped garlic and stir fry 10 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the eggplant and stir fry 2 minutes, or until the eggplant flesh has changed color and has absorbed all the oil. Swirl the rice wine into the wok, immediately cover the wok, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 30 seconds. Uncover the wok and sprinkle on the sugar. Swirl the soy sauce-water mixture into the wok, increase the heat to high and stir fry one minute. Return the pork to wok. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed by the eggplant and the eggplant is just tender when pierced with  a knife. Uncover, and stir fry 15 seconds. Stir in the remaining 2 smashed garlic cloves. Cover, remove the wok from the heat and set aside for 1 minute or until the pork is just cooked through. Remove the garlic cloves for serving if you like and sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 c of scallions. Serve warm, room temperature or even cold.

Cook these too!
Cantonese Steamed Chicken with Black Mushrooms
Ma Po Tofu
Chinese Noodles with Blackened Green Onion and an Angry Egg
Fresh Fried Rice
Xi'an Style Pork Stuffed Pancakes

And don't forget to pin and share:







Get My Latest Recipes & More Via E-Mail

29 comments:

  1. Welcome back! And what a fun read! Sounds like you had a thoroughly good time. And ate well -- the most important thing. Very cool that the whole family could be there together. Love the pictures, too. Oh, and you gave us a recipe as well! Life is good. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Life is good! Except of course that everyone is back in their respective places. To be honest though I was ready for a bit of quiet time only now it is a bit to quiet!

      Delete
  2. Looks like a fab experience being all together there.That would be my highlight.
    Love that your recipe has no fish sauce ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was great being together most of the time! However adult kids can sometimes revert into kids again! And no fish sauce in Chinese cooking.

      Delete
  3. So glad you were able to spend some quality time with your boy! Yeah... I guess I should have prepped you a little better for your trip. Don't you just love how they give their toilets a star rating. ( or maybe u did not notice this?) Seriously after you see a 4 star toilet, you don't want to see a 3 star...LOL I love your dish, simple and delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh the toilets! This deserves its own post! One time we had to call the front desk to figure out how to flush it. Turning on the shower was always challenging. And no, I always stuck with one setting on the throne except perhaps for using the heating or cooling features! And my boy? No worries now! China best watch out for him.

      Delete
  4. Good to see you BACK, Abbe, and you certainly had a fun time in China. mmm....I really miss those dumplings. Your eggplant with garlic and pork looks droolworthy too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Angie! Dumplings deserve their own post. So many varieties, so much fun!

      Delete
  5. Welcome home!! It certainly sounds like the trip of a lifetime!!! China has always been on my bucket list, but your experience sounds impossible to repeat!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Liz! It was the trip of a lifetime though I hope I can do it again. There is still so much to see! I think this would be tough to repeat unless you travel with a personal guide.

      Delete
  6. First of all, welcome back! You are so lucky to have experienced China with a fluent guide and one that you know so well :) I hope you do share a few more Chinese recipes from your trip if you can duplicate them at home! The Chinese eggplant with pork sounds wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries, Susan! There is a lot to share! It was an awesome experience!

      Delete
  7. Sounds like an amazing experience! Love this eggplant dish and can't wait to try it as we still have asian eggplant plants producing in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine produced a ton! Well, almost! I was cooking eggplant all the time!

      Delete
  8. Wow what an adventure! I don't think I can take the lack of personal space :) Love this dish and welcome home!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you do get used to it. However I must admit that I was relieved to get back to our room at night-if just for the silence. Let me tell you, if it was a Chinese hotel it certainly wasn't for the bed. Chinese beds are hard as rocks! I thought I would wake up with bruises!

      Delete
  9. How lucky you could see China without having to be on a tour bus! My Grandfather said it was the most amazing place he had ever visited. I am not sure I would have coped with empty dishes being left on the table :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is truly amazing. They have come so far so quickly that it will be amazing to see what happens in the next 5 years. You wouldn't believe the buildings going up...and many of them are just sitting there empty!

      Delete
  10. I love the play-by-play of the typical Chinese restaurant. Sort of sounds like eating at the 'Jimmy Rockford.' — Eggplant is one of my faves, and Asian versions top everything. This is a wonderful looking recipe. Bookmarked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes. The one thing I forgot to mention was the massive hard back "magazine" that they give you for a menu. Only one per table in most cases. Then it is a matter of choosing which takes a lot of questions. We always wondered why it took Alex what seemed like such a long time to order. Thanks, Adam!

      Delete
  11. So if I say your eggplant dish looks like mall food you won't be offended, right? Because some of the best Asian food in Los Angeles is also in an Asian mall! GREG

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow. Your dish looks fabulous. And the photos are really wonderful to see! What a great experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mimi. More will be forthcoming as I took about 1500 plus I'm hoping to get the rest from everyone! And it is a really good eggplant dish!

      Delete
  13. What a gorgeous trip to such a fascinating country. Your pork and eggplant look delicious.I'm going to give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Abbe, sounds like you have been on the trip of a lifetime. And how wonderful to spend it with your favorite people. China sounds even more exciting and magical after reading this post. Love eggplant, I bet this dish is delicious! Can't wait to see more pics.....

    ReplyDelete
  15. Welcome back Abbe. I've been looking forward to your post and some photos. Wow - looks like you had a wonderful time. Your eggplant dish looks divine. Why doesn't eggplant look like that when I cook it??? :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Love the pictures! Very interesting about Chinese restaurants not clearing the plates until you leave. Hope the tables are big! :) There is a Vietnamese dish that I love with eggplant and ground pork, but this Chinese dish looks even better! Can't wait to make it! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  17. On Abbe...I am so glad that you all had a great time in China...the pictures are awesome and the recipe fantastic...really a classic Chinese dish and you made it perfect.
    I look forward to see more pictures...enjoy your week :)

    ReplyDelete