Friday, October 3, 2014

Fish-Fragrant Eggplant

This Sunday October 5th will be the last day of the fifth season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, so be sure to stock up on pastured chicken, lamb, and pork cuts from Fair Valley Farm and fresh produce and preserves from Good Food Easy at Sweetwater Farm. Once the season is over, consider signing up for CSAs with our market venders. This final market Sunday you can expect to find:

winter squash: turkish turban, acorn, delicata, and pumpkins (delicious in salads)
Gravenstein apples, Asian pears and bartlett pears from SLO farm (make apple sauce)
watermelon and cantaloupes
eggplants (try the addictive fish-fragrant eggplant dish below)
tomatoes and sweet and hot peppers (make and end of the season pasta primavera)
corn and tomatillos (make salsa) 
green and yellow beans (put away some green bean pickles)
potatoes, baby beets, and broccoli (delicious roasted)
fennel, cucumbers, kohlrabi, carrots, and radish (make sushi rolls)
crookneck squash, summer squash, and zucchini (make ratatouille)
cabbage (green, red, savoy) (make some barley and bean soup)
radicchio, chard, kale, lettuce, including bagged mix (make some kale pesto pizza)
garlic and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, sage, thyme) and home-grown lemon grass

Preserves, Beans, and Grains
From Sweet Creek Foods:
Dill Pickles, Chili Dill Pickles, Bread 'N Butter Pickles, Pickle Relish
Blueberry, Strawberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry Fruit Spreads
Enchilada Sauce and Salsa
From SLO Farm: Applesauce
Assorted beans and grains from Camas Country Mill

Here's a guest post from my husband, who shares his secrets for making one of my favorite Sichuan 
dishes, fish-fragrant eggplant. 

We have been buying lots of eggplant this summer, and almost all of it is for making "fish-fragrant eggplant" or yu xiang qie zi. This dish doesn't actually contain fish, but gets its name because the same flavorings are often used in Sichuan fish dishes.

The recipe I make is adapted from Fuchsia Dunlap's Every Grain of RiceIt makes a very satisfying meal eaten over rice, along with some some Sichuan dry-fried green beans and spicy cucumber salad

Fish Fragrant Eggplant
Adapted from Fuchsia Dunlap's Every Grain of Rice

2 long eggplants or 4 small eggplants
Cooking oil, for pan-frying
1 tablespoons Sichuan broad bean paste (also called ma po paste, or Doubanjiang)
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
1 spicy fresh pepper such as a cherry bomb (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2/3 cup (150ml) chicken stock
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon potato or tapioca flour mixed with one tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar
4 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion greens

First, slice the eggplants into 2 inch sections, then split the sections into 4-8 pieces. Place in a colander and salt while turning. This helps release liquid which makes for a better frying. Let sit for 15 minutes. 

While the eggplant is sitting, slice the ginger and garlic. Cover the bottom of a wok with canola or other high-heat oil and heat on high. Add the eggplant (it may take two batches) and cook. Don't turn too frequently since you want them to get a nice golden brown sear.  Remove to drain on paper towels (cook the second batch if needed), pour off all but 1 Tbsp oil, and turn the heat down. 

Next, stir in the broad bean paste. I sprinkle in some Sichuan peppercorn at this point as well. Once they become fragrant, turn off the heat and add the garlic and ginger and optional fresh pepper. It is important not to burn these! If the heat looks under control, turn in back on to medium low until the ginger and garlic are cooked. 

Then pour in the chicken stock and add the sugar, add back the eggplant so it draws in the sauce. Add the potato or tapioca flour to thicken, stirring gently. Splash in the vinegar and the sliced green onion and enjoy!

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