Monday, July 25, 2011

Quick, no, not fast food –it’s Garlic Chicken with Eggplant

Garlic Eggplant Chicken - final state

Stir fry eggplant until it gets soft 
sauce ingredients

fried rice - eggs

fried rice..break up and cook
Chicken stir fry part (added after ginger)
 After I got home from work I wanted to take a break and catch up on emails, facebook (yes, I admit it), news and music.  I know I should have gone straight to cooking because once I sit down I risk not cooking a great dinner.  Not that every dinner needs to be ‘great’-but with a growing child (add food allergies) I do need to make a healthy and tasty dinner.  Given the recent five-day power outage, I am out of some key ingredients.  The purchase of a portable generator allowed me to save some things.  One of these items was free range chicken breast.  Most of my ingredients come from Whole Foods or other specialty stores and my stock has not been replenished.  I also haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping for the usual this week, so I really had to make do with what was available at home (not much).

I love Chinese eggplant dishes (especially at P.F. Chang’s).  I had some eggplant that I originally purchased for a Mediterranean dish that I never got around to cooking. 

It was getting late so I didn’t want to make something that will take forever.  “She was moving like a woman possessed,” according to one observer.  But a great dinner was cooked…and it disappeared faster than it took to make (which is a big thing….if my son doesn’t like something, he drags).  The key ingredients to this dinner were:

Boneless chicken breast (if you are a vegetarian, substitute a well prepared tofu)
Green onions
Eggs (because I like fried rice more than plain rice…and a growing child needs his protein)

A sauce composed of:
Soy sauce
Vegetarian stir fry sauce (vegetarian version of oyster sauce and a lot less salty….my son is allergic to shellfish, but actually I prefer this to oyster sauce and ask for this substitution at restaurants….tastes a lot less salty)
Sesame oil (only added at end for flavor…this is not a cooking oil)
Chicken broth (can use  vegetable broth)

I don’t measure anything and mostly do this visually.  I’ve made Chinese food for years, so I move fairly fast.    I wish I had a better stove (higher heat) but it still works.

First slice (across, through) the chicken breast in Chinese style pieces

Take about
¼ c of organic soy sauce
¼ c of rice vinegar
½ tsp (again approximate) cornstarch
½ c of a good oil (canola or regular olive oil-not extra virgin  that will overpower all flavors)

stir before you add the oil, then add the oil
put the chicken in a zip lock bag and pour marinade over it. 
Let sit while you work on the other part

Now, multitask to the max

Dice an eggplant (the garlic, ginger and green onions can be chopped while the eggplant is frying)

Pour some oil into a wok (I use expeller pressed 365 brand Canola-it’s a good frying oil)

Stir fry the diced eggplant on high heat for 5-8 minutes until it looks softened

Stir some stir fry sauce into it….remove from wok and set asid

Stir fry finely chopped ginger (2-3 tbs) for 1 minute

Add the marinated chicken (without the liquid)

Stir fry on the highest heat possible and wait until it turns white – stirring constantly,

You may need to remove some of the liquid the chicken renders with a spoon (take it off the fire and quickly remove some of the extra liquid). During the last minute add the finely chopped garlic –garlic should never be overcooked…..stir constantly

Add the eggplant (that was already made)

Add soy sauce; stir fry sauce and some chicken broth.  I don’t measure this, but the key is to get a nice consistency that is not too salty.  The low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) will dilute the saltiness.  The stir fry sauce provides a rich flavor and creaminess to the sauce and soy, of course provides a soy flavor.  Again, I use non genetically modified soy sauce.

Add some finely sliced green onions and stir
Add some sesame oil for flavor and stir
Garnish with green onions

If you have other vegetables on hand….you can add it to the vegetable stir frying

Put in a serving dish

Take some cooked rice (usually I like to to cook the day fries better, but this was a last minute dinner)

Beat three ' non cage vegetarian fed’ eggs (higher in Omega 3s)

Add some oil to the frying pan
Once hot, add the beaten eggs
On high heat add the eggs and let it cook (this will be the shredded egg in fried rice)
Add some of the finely sliced green onions (or other vegetables…I was out) and stir
Add the rice and break up (still high heat)
Once broken up add some soy sauce and continue to use a break up motion
Note:  don’t add too much soy sauce, most restaurants add too much soy sauce, don’t try to match the color…a good fried rice is not too dark
Cook for a few minutes on very high heat
Add some sesame oil –stir for a minute and turn off heat
Garnish with green onions

This dinner really took hardly any time to cook (took longer to write this blog with typos).

A healthy, tasty quick dinner that is NOT fast food.     I really liked the eggplant in this dish.  I make all kinds of Chinese dishes, but given how much I like eggplant, this is one of my favorites.  I typically use more vegetables but the five day power outage and lack of time didn’t allow that this time.  However, eggplant is a pretty powerful vegetable so it provides a lot of flavor.  I will also try to make a meatless version of this with a well prepared (non GMO) tofu.  I’m working on fine tuning a five spice tofu (yes, inspired by P.F. Chang’s firm five spice tofu in their vegetarian lettuce wraps).

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