In our non-blog life, the Dirty Hippie and I are commercial photographers, and for the past seven years, we’ve had a great assistant named Jess. She’s been much, much more than any one else affiliated with our little photo company. Over the years, Jess has become a close friend and annually, we celebrate the day she started working for us with a special meal. Eggplant is her favorite veggie, so this recipe is a healthier version of the Chinese-takeout classic Jess adores. Thank you Jess! It’s been a wonderful seven years working with you!!
Try Jess’ new fave at home served over steamed rice. It’s vegan and gluten-free. Serves about 4 to 6 for dinner with rice.
Sweet and Sour Eggplant
2 lbs. Asian eggplant, sliced and sweated
1 cup fresh red peppers, chopped
1 cup white onions, chopped
1 block extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 Tbs. peanut oil
6 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 Tbs. tamari sauce
2 Tbs. cornstarch or arrowroot
4 Tbs. coconut sugar
4 to 6 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
4-5 Tbs. peanut oil
hot pepper paste (to taste)
1 tbs. minced hot pepper, such as jalapeno (optional)
To sweat your eggplant, slices them into long pieces and place on paper towels on a cookie/baking sheet. Sprinkle salt over all cut sides and sit aside to rest for about 30 minutes. By then, sweating process will make the eggplant less bitter. Blot off and get going on the rest of the recipe. We usually start this and then start the steamed rice, so everything is ready at the same time.
In a bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Stir well and set aside.
Add eggplant, chopped onion, chopped red pepper, and cubed tofu to a large pan or wok. Toss with 1 tablespoon peanut oil and lightly saute over medium heat, stirring often, until onions begins to wilt and tofu lightly browned. This will be about five to seven minutes.
When veggies are warmed through and tofu is getting crispy, pour in the sauce and fold to coat evenly. Lower heat and stir occasionally, allowing veggies and tofu to take on the flavor of the sauce. As it cooks, sauce will thicken and reduce. Leave on heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is at desired texture.
Serve warm over steamed rice. Garnish with chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds and/or chopped peanuts.
Oh, and this is Jess. She’s stealing a smooch from our hound Valerio…