My experience in eating and cooking with herbs was totally changed because of this dish, eggplants with basil. I was not really into the smell of basil before, not hating it, but I wouldn’t classify it as my favourite. Well, my impression of basil was dramatically changed once I tasted this dish.
Every time when I dined out with my family in any Taiwanese restaurants. They would pick and eat all the basil in the plate, if any. There came a special time, they ordered a dish of eggplants with basil. They urged me to try one or two bites. They said it wouldn’t hurt. I didn’t know why I listened to them at that time. I just tried a bit, immediately I love the taste. The fragrance and sweetness of basil totally reset my memory and change my preference. I love eating basil ever since. Now, whenever I think I can add basil, I would definitely add some in my cooking. I even started to grow several plants of basil in my backyard a few weeks ago. Am I addicted to eating basil right now?
- 2 or 3 Chinese eggplants (the long and small ones best suit for this dish)
- 1 bunch Chinese basil(sweet basil is also good choice)
- 1/2 tsp crushed yellow bean sauce
- 1/2 tsp chili bean sauce
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp cornflour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp water
- dash of sesame oil
- Rinse eggplants and drain well. Cut into pieces about 1 inch in thickness diagonally. Add a pinch of salt in cold water and soak the eggplants for 15 minutes.
- Rinse basil and pick leaves for later use.
- Heat plenty of oil in a wok that is enough to cover all eggplants. Drain eggplants very well and wipe dry with kitchen towel.
- Deep fry eggplants for a couple of minutes until tender. Drain eggplants and put on kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
- Pour out the oil from wok and leave a tablespoon of oil to sauté minced garlic, crushed yellow bean sauce and chili bean sauce. When you smell the aroma, toss in eggplants and stir well. Add water to cook until the eggplants are cooked through and really soft with less water remaining. Pour into seasoning, stir quickly and add basil. After adding basil, don’t cook too long. Turn off the heat. Let the heat of the sauce cook basil for a while. Dish up. Serve hot.
- Do not cook the basil too long. You don’t want the basil either too raw or overcooked. Use the remaining heat of the sauce to cook basil, you will just get it exactly right in taste and texture.
- You have to be very sure that the eggplants are dry enough before putting them in hot oil. If there’s any water, the hot oil would be splashed out then. It’s very dangerous. Be cautious!
- You can recycle the oil that deep fry the eggplants to sauté vegetables or cook other foods.