Eggplant and Red Sweet Peppers in Roasted Chili Paste
1 1/4 pounds eggplants*
Trim off the stems from the eggplants. If using Japanese eggplants, cut each one in half lengthwise and then cut each half crosswise into 1-inch pieces. If using Thai eggplants, quarter lengthwise. If using one or more globe eggplants, cut into 1-inch chunks.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic (4 to 6 cloves)
1 purple onion, cut lengthwise into thin strips
2 tablespoons roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 red sweet pepper, cut into long, thin strips
Heat a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook, tossing often, until the onion is shiny and softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggplant pieces and cook, tossing often, until they are tender but still hold their shape, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chili paste, sugar, water, soy sauce, and salt and toss well. Add the red pepper and cook, tossing often, until it is shiny and beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot or warm.
*The slender, deep purple Japanese eggplants are ideal here, but chunks cut from a large globe eggplant, or golf ball-sized Thai eggplants halved lengthwise would work as well.
Serves 4 to 6.
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