Spicy Eggplant (version VI)

6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium eggplant, halved and sliced into crescents
1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon hot bean sauce (or hot sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 scallions, chopped
4 cups rice, cooked

1. In a small bowl, combine mushrooms and boiling water and soak for 15 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid, coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sugar, soy, vinegar, and reserved mushroom water and set aside.

2. In a large wok, heat oil over high heat, add eggplant and stir-fry about 10 minutes, or until each piece is cooked. Add pepper, garlic, ginger, and mushrooms and continue cooking 3 minutes or until peppers just begin to soften. Stir in hot sauce, add soy mixture and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Turn out onto serving plate, sprinkle with scallions and serve with rice.

Makes 4 servings

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