Braising means to cook something first in fat, and then in liquid. I've made some great Braised Collard Greens, but I think it works especially well in eggplant. The one thing you have to keep an eye on with eggplant is using TOO MUCH oil, because eggplant can be like a sponge and it can get greasy if you're not careful.
I used dried mushrooms and used the excess liquid left from reconstituting them for the broth. I also cut the kernels from an ear of corn and tossed that in with the tofu to add some sweetness
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
A more-or-less traditional Sichuan preparation, creamy and delicious with soft-cooked eggplant, made crisp by the addition of sautéed shiitakes. Substitute green beans for the eggplant if you like.
1 /4cup peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
1 cup sliced shiitake caps (reserve stems for stock or discard)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger (optional)
11/2 pounds eggplant, trimmed, cut into 11/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon Chile Paste (optional)
1 /2 cup vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound tofu, blotted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons minced scallion for garnish (optional)
1. Put half the oil in a deep skillet or shallow saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shiitakes and some salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and, a few seconds later, the garlic and the ginger if you’re using it. As soon as it sizzles, add the eggplant. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the eggplant browns, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chile paste if you’re using it, along with the stock. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan if necessary to release any stuck bits of eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is really tender, 10 to 15 minutes more, adding a little more liquid if necessary (unlikely, but not impossible).
3. Stir in the soy sauce and tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is heated through, about 5 minutes; stir in the reserved shiitakes and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish as you like and serve.