Sometimes, the strangest (and worst) meals are made when I throw stuff together randomly. Thankfully, more often than sometimes, these spontaneous ideas end up working out! The only downside is that during those times, I’m just trying to get dinner together and don’t have my notebook by my side. so that I can write ingredients down so that I can share them with you. Luckily, I made this thrice- so, it better be good!
As a note, this is inspired by one of my favorite dishes- fish and eggplant, that seemed to be ubiquitous in Philly’s Chinatown. Distinctions are that the eggplant is NOT deep-fried, and it is not a saucey dish, but will go dandily with rice..
Tasty Place and M Kee, thanks for your inspiration over the years <3
Chicken and Eggplant
ji ding chao qie zi
8-9 ounces boneless (skinless if you want) chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
2-3 Chinese eggplants (slender)
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced (optional)
1-2 stalks scallions, finely chopped (optional but nice)
OR a handful of Thai basil (optional but nice)
Salt to taste
1) Marinate the chicken.
2) Slice the eggplants on the bias, with the rolling knife method(not my video)- 滾刀 or gun dao, making sure to hold you knife at a smaller angle so that the slices are thinner than shown in the video.
3) A cast iron skillet is REALLY great for this step..If you don’t have one, a nonstick skillet will do. Use just enough oil to coat your pan with a thin layer of oil, and arrange your eggplant, skin side UP if possible. Pan fry on medium/low heat until the eggplants are slightly softened. Flip each one over, then continue on the other side. Remove the eggplants from the pan when they are 90% softened, but not mushy and to a pulp!
4) Next, add a little more oil to the pan. Toss in your garlic and chicken and cook until the chicken is 90% done.
5) Add the eggplant back in, along with scallions or basil, and cook until the chicken is completely done .
-The Chinese name is something I made up, as I’m unsure if this dish actually exists.
-This was made the first two times with scallions, but I saw some pretty fresh Thai basil (as fresh as it gets in these areas) and thought it’d be nice together. So, really..scallions or basil- totally up to you.
-What? Chicken breast? Have you sold out? Noooo. Surprisingly, I feel that the meaty and firm texture of white meat is a great balance for the soft and tenderness of the eggplant. That being said, thighs will also do just fine, if that’s what you have.
-The garlic is not meant to be dominant or even a main flavoring agent; we just love garlic and it’s there to accompany your eggplant and chicken as you eat it. You could do without it, and the dish would taste pretty similar!
-I think the eggplant could be roasted in the oven in lieu of step #3, but I think that’d also be strange, because Chinese people traditionally seldom use the oven for dinner preparation..Hence I did not do that.
-Because of step #3, this is a difficult dish to make in large batches. If you are making a double/triple batch, start earlier, as you will have to do many batches. Or, throw in the towel and just deep fry the eggplant.