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So have you ever gone to P.F. Chang’s (or any other Chinese restaurant really) and ordered their eggplant dish. It’s pretty amazing – it’s spicy and sweet…..so it has become my mission to replicate the dish – without frying it. Oh, you didn’t know that they fried it? I didn’t either until I was looking online for the recipe! I was really surprised….b/c here I thought that was a healthy option. Oh well, live and learn, right? So like I said, it’s my mission to replicate that dish at home – and make it super healthy. It’s a great side dish to eat with steamed rice and a grilled chicken breast – or just by itself. Which is how I’m going to eat it.

First things first, we need to tackle the eggplant. I always cook my eggplant in the oven – it softens the eggplant, maintains its flavor and texture, and doesn’t require unseemly amounts of oil. And it’s easy – no mess and no thinking – just throw  it in there and leave it alone. Plus, you’ll get a nice outer crispiness to the eggplant by using the oven – which will help add texture to the dish and take on the attributes of frying more than searing in a pan or cooking in a microwave.

I also want to talk about salting eggplant – I don’t do this – I’ve never done this – and don’t plan on doing it. I know that they say you should salt your cut eggplant and allow the water to seep out of the eggplant, then rinse the salt off, dry – then cook. That just seems like waaay too many extra steps. I love the flavor of eggplant, and have never found it too strong or too tough. So anyways, there’s my rant about salting eggplant and why I refuse to do it. Call me lazy….or a rebel – either way – I’ll take it!

Cut the eggplant, skin on, into 1 inch chunks. Skin-on is necessary to keep some of the texture of the eggplant. Toss onto a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle over ½ t. salt, and ½ t. pepper. Don’t over-salt at this step – because we’re going to be making a salty sauce, so you don’t want to overdo it. Sprinkle over 1 T. of olive oil. Careful about this – you don’t want to glug it onto the eggplant, because those babies will suck the oil right up. Sprinkling it over lightly will allow you to spread the oil more evenly. Believe me; a few times I’ve glugged the oil on – and a few pieces will completely suck up the oil while the other ones are normal!

Put the eggplant into a pre-heated oven at 425. I know this seems high – but we want to get a nice crisp on the outside of the eggplant while softening the inside. It should take about 15 – 20 minutes for the eggplant to finish cooking – you’ll know when it’s done when you can pierce it easily with a fork. And the edges are brown. Brown = flavor – that’s what Anne Burrell always says and I believe her….for sure.

Ok, while the eggplant is cooking away – it’s time to start working on the sauce. It’s really easy actually – the only thing that makes this sauce somewhat complicated is finding the ingredients if you don’t have them already. I needed to go out and buy fish sauce and ground bean sauce. I had never used ground bean sauce before so was pretty intrigued by it – and very happy to see that they had it at my regular grocery store! Ground bean sauce is a thick consistency – but smells like a really condensed version of soy sauce mixed with Worcestershire sauce. Pretty good actually.

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce together – and mince up 2 garlic cloves. Warm up a pan on the stove – a wok if you have one….I don’t – and stir fry the garlic for a few seconds – 30 to 45 – until softened – but not burned.

Add in the sauce – allow it to thicken slightly while simmering – about 2 to 4 minutes . Take the cooked eggplant and toss into the sauce – to get each and every piece covered completely.

Serve this with rice, chicken, and for some extra flavor – add a few pieces of green onion on top. Amazing & low calorie/low carb/low fat! I cut out a ton of the calories/fat/carbs from the original recipe which fries the eggplant, uses regular sugar, and also uses 1 T. cornstarch to thicken up the sauce. Seriously – believe me – it tastes so good – you won’t miss the extra calories – Enjoy!

Szechuan Eggplant
Serves 2
Click here for recipe.

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1″ dice
1 T. garlic, minced
1 ½ T. olive oil
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
For sauce:
2 T. fish sauce
2 T. lite soy sauce
1 T. water
1 T. white vinegar
1 packets of Truvia – or 1 ½ T. sugar
1 T. chili paste – spicy!
½ T.  ground bean sauce
½ T. sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Dice the eggplant, spread onto baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt and pepper and drizzle over the olive oil.
  3. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until eggplant is tender and slightly crispy.
  4. Mix all ingredients together for the sauce.
  5. On high heat, stir-fry garlic for 5 seconds then add sauce. Reduce heat and let sauce simmer 2 minutes or until thickened slightly.
  6. Add eggplant and simmer for another minute.

Enjoy!

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