CANTONESE EGGPLANT CASSEROLE
For many Chinese and American-born Chinese, this Cantonese chicken and salted fish fried rice meal is a no-brainer. Even if your dining companions are repulsed by your food choice, if it’s on the menu, you must order it. My friend, there is absolutely no shame about it!
In terms of our non-Asian friends, this salted fish fried rice could be a little too bold. Andrew Zimmern might use one of his insane terms to characterize it at its worst.
Do not click away! If you’ll allow me, I’d want to tell you a story about my first experience with a simple cheese pizza.
All of my grandmother’s adult children and their families arrived in the United States in 1983, with the support of my grandma (between all the uncles, aunts, and cousins, there were 20 of us).
As soon as we landed in the United States, my grandma couldn’t wait to show us around. Even though we’d only been in the country for a single day, she insisted on taking us all to a neighborhood pizzeria in downtown Monticello, NY.
She ordered a cheese pizza and raved about how delicious it was. Even before we had a chance to take a bite, we were gagging.
The cheese’s odor was overpowering—and awful! We couldn’t understand how she was able to eat so much of it without gagging, let alone chowing down on it piece by piece.
My first taste of cheese was like that.
As a result, I’ve developed a taste for pizza and a hankering for cheese in all forms.
Chicken and salted fish fried rice, which sounds terrible, is actually excellent. This dish is a must-have if you enjoy cheese and the mild nuttiness of anchovies that have been cooked and melted.
A strong cross between cheese and anchovies (if you’re still not convinced, you can move on to the next page) is the best way to describe it.
If you’re still here, then there’s still hope for you.
Furthermore, restaurants never give you enough salty fish—sometimes to the point where it’s practically unappetizing (the salty fish is pricey). You might expect to pay up to $100 for a single piece of salt-cured salmon. Dollars. It’s a big deal. It’s okay, though, because you can buy it in small quantities, and a little of it goes a long way).
Try Scallop Fried Rice or Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice for a less exotic option.
Just stay with this one, and I’ll guarantee you won’t be disappointed — let’s get started!
- 680g eggplant
- 110g of thinly sliced pork or chicken
- 30g of deboned and minced Chinese salted fish
- 4 teaspoons of light soy sauce
- 4 cloves of smashed and chopped garlic
- 3 slices of minced ginger
- 2 scallions green parts and white parts separated and chopped
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups of canola oil for frying (plus 1 tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of Chinese black vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
- 1/2-3/4 cup of water
- Set the pork (or chicken) aside after tossing it with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch. To clean the eggplants, use a clean dish towel to pat them dry. Make 2-inch x 1/2-inch slices out of the eggplant. In a large zip-top bag, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and toss the eggplant pieces with it until they are evenly coated in the flour.
- Over medium heat, warm 1 1/2 cups canola oil (the oil should be about 3/4 inch deep). Stick a chopstick (bamboo or wood) in the oil to see whether it’s hot enough. The oil is ready for frying if you observe a lot of bubbles surrounding the chopstick. Cook the eggplant in small batches, about two minutes at a time, in a hot frying pan. Afterward, pat dry with paper towels.
- A spoonful of oil should be added to your wok when it is on medium-high heat. Add the white sections of the scallions, the ginger, and the garlic to the pot. Add the pork (or chicken) and the salted fish to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds (or anchovies). Stir-fry the meat until it’s done. Pour in the scallion greens with sugar and vinegar. Then add the eggplant. Add a further half-cup of water to the mixture.
- Mix everything together over a high heat. The liquid should thicken into a sauce as a result of the cornstarch used to coat the eggplant. In order to achieve the correct sauce consistency, you may need to add a small amount of water. There should be some sauce on this meal, but it shouldn’t be drenched. Also, don’t overcook the eggplant; you don’t want it to lose its shape when cooking. Serve with steamed rice when the sauce has thickened.