Thai Cucumber Salad

1 lb cucumber, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 small red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Dressing:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Add salt to the cucumber, mix well and set aside in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, make the Dressing, by combining all the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Turn on the heat and reduce the Dressing a bit so it’s slightly thickened. Let cool.

Drain the salt water from the cucumber completely. Toss the cucumber, onion, and mix with the Dressing. Top with the peanut and cilantro, serve immediately.

RECIPE NOTES
Thai cucumber salad is best served with Thai chicken sate.

Steamed Eggplant with Lao Gan Ma (Lady Sauce)

1 pound Japanese or Chinese eggplant (450g, about 3 eggplants)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese dark vinegar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-1 1/2 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma chili sauce (or any chili sauce or chili oil of your choice)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 scallion (minced)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Prepare your steamer. If you’re not sure how to set up a steaming apparatus, check our our post on how to set up a steamer, even without special equipment. Turn the heat on low to pre-heat the water in the steamer.

Cut each eggplant crosswise into 3 equal sections, then cut each section into 8-10 bite sized strips.

Fill a large container with about 2 quarts of water and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Soak the eggplant in the vinegar water for 3 minutes. Then remove the eggplant and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Arrange them on a heat-proof rimmed dish and carefully lower it into the steamer. Cover and turn the heat on high. Steam the eggplant for 8-10 minutes.

Now make the sauce by combining the Chinese dark vinegar, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and chili sauce.
Remove the eggplant from the steamer (no need to pour out the liquid in the dish), and evenly pour the sauce over the eggplant. Top it with the minced garlic and scallions. Try to keep garlic and scallions close together in a couple tight lines to make the next step easier.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan until it starts to smoke lightly, and then carefully pour it over the garlic and scallion. Serve hot or cold. If serving as a cold appetizer, you can make this dish in advance.

Cantonese Eggplant Casserole (with Pork or Chicken)

4 oz. pork (or chicken, thinly sliced; 110g)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (plus 1/2 teaspoon)
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (680g, preferably Chinese/Japanese eggplant)
1 1/2 cups canola oil for frying (350 ml, plus 1 tablespoon)
3 slices ginger (minced)
4 cloves garlic (smashed and chopped)
2 scallions green parts and white parts separated and chopped
1 oz. Chinese salted fish (30g, deboned and minced; may substitute anchovy fillets)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar (look for the yellow bottle labeled, “Chinkiang Vinegar”)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
4 teaspoons light soy sauce
1/2-3/4 cup water (depending on how hot your stove can get and how quickly the liquid cooks off)

Toss your pork (or chicken) with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch and set aside. Wash the eggplants and dry them off with a clean kitchen towel. Trim off the ends, and cut the eggplant into 2-inch x 1/2-inch pieces. Add the eggplant pieces to a large zip top bag and toss with 2 tablespoons cornstarch until evenly coated.

Heat 1 1/2 cups canola oil in a small pot (the oil should be about 3/4-inch deep) over medium heat. To test the oil temperature, stick a bamboo or wooden chopstick in the oil. If you see a good deal of bubbles forming around the chopstick, the oil is ready for frying. Fry the eggplant in batches, cooking each batch for about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in your wok over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and the white parts of the scallions. Cook for 30 seconds, and then add the pork (or chicken) and the salted fish (or anchovies). Stir-fry until the meat is cooked through. Now add the eggplant, sugar, vinegar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and the green parts of the scallion. Also add 1/2 cup water.

Turn up the heat to high and mix everything together. Because of the cornstarch used to coat the eggplant, the liquid should thicken into a sauce. Add a little more water if necessary to reach the desired sauce consistency. This dish should have some sauce, but shouldn’t be swimming in liquid. Also, remember not to cook the eggplant for too long; it shouldn’t lose its shape. Once the sauce is thickened, serve with steamed rice!