It’s always nice when everyone at the table can enjoy the same meal and no one feels left out. My beautiful friend Ellen Kanner has been making sure that vegans have delicious and exciting food on her table with her wonderful blog Soulful Vegan, her read more
Eggplant seems to be a divisive vegetable. People are either passionate eggplant lovers or haters. I definitely fall in the lover category and this easy Steamed Eggplant is one of my favorites. Steaming eggplant renders the flesh really lush and tender, and then I pair it with a piquant sauce made from pantry ingredients you already have on hand. This is the little black dress of sides; it goes with anything and everything, so let’s get into it.
Give Eggplant a Chance
The reason that many people dislike eggplant is because it can be a little bitter and seedy. Well friends, I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the case. Yes globe eggplants, the ones you see in all American grocery stores, tend to be stronger in flavor, with thick skins and often bitter flesh. But, there are all kinds of eggplants out there. And if you’ve never had Chinese eggplant before, you need to try it out before you disparage all eggplants.
How is it so different you ask? Let me count the ways… First, Chinese eggplant has very thin skin- there’s no need to peel it. Second, it’s very slender and the flesh cooks up very quickly. Third, it has fewer, smaller seeds so you won’t even notice them when you’re eating. Finally, the flesh is kind of sweet and silky. So have I sold you yet?
Although I use Chinese eggplant for this recipe, there are plenty of other eggplants you can use too. If you have a local farmers market, try something that looks good. You’ll see white ones, green ones, and striped eggplant as well. Not sure, ask the farmers. They know! I find that in general, any slender eggplant will be more tender and have fewer seeds. A couple years ago, everyone was growing these beautiful, tiny lavender ones called fairy eggplant. Nothing thrills me more than spotting new produce!
Chinese eggplant can easily be found at most Asian grocers, but if you can’t find any, I have included instructions for standard globe eggplant in the notes. Look for shiny, deeply purple (not brownish), firm eggplant with fresh looking leaves. If you’re buying the large globe eggplant, look for smaller ones with a round dimpled end (male) rather than the dash (female). Eggplants don’t actually have genders but they are from cross pollinating seeds that are male and female. The male eggplant are less seedy and more meaty than the females. When you cut into the eggplant, seeds that are pale and not a dark brown color, will indicate freshness as well.
Making the Dish
This dish is super fast, making it a great option when you are pressed for time and just need to get something quick on the table. It’s also fully cooked in the microwave so you won’t need to turn on the stove or wash any pans.
Let the eggplant cool while you make the sauce. This sauce takes just a couple minutes to make, but it is powerfully flavorful. Toasted sesame oil adds a nutty depth and oyster sauce thickens everything up so it clings to the eggplant. When you make this sauce, you’ll probably think it’s not enough. And once you pour it on, it will be just enough to coat the eggplant. But then in a couple minutes, the eggplant will start to weep, and you’ll be surprised at how saucy it’s become!
Once the eggplant has cooled down enough to handle, quickly tear it into bite sized pieces. I prefer this technique over cutting it with a knife as the jagged edges absorb the sauce better.
Now all that’s left to do is dress the eggplant. This dish is great either warm or at room temperature. The eggplant will continue to absorb the flavors of the dressing as it sits.
Put the steamed eggplant on a serving plate and garnish with the reserved scallions and sesame seeds.
Steamed Eggplant makes a delicious side for:
I hope you enjoy this super fast and healthy side as much as I do. Try it this week and let me know; comment on the recipe below and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 1 ¼ pound Chinese Eggplant (about 4 medium)
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, minced and divided
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Wash and trim the stem of the eggplant. Cut the eggplant crosswise into 3 logs and then cut the logs in half lengthwise.
- Put the eggplant in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 5 minutes. Set the eggplant aside to cool.
- While the eggplant is cooling, make the sauce.
- Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, scallions (reserving a teaspoon for garnish), and cilantro in a bowl and stir to combine.
- When the eggplant has cooled enough to handle, use your hands to tear it into smaller strips. Discard any liquid and put the eggplant back into the bowl.
- Gently mix the eggplant to combine and then mound it onto a plate.
- Sprinkle with reserved scallions and sesame seeds. Serve steamed eggplant warm or room temperature.
*If you prefer to steam your eggplant traditionally:
Set up your steamer by adding several cups of water to the bottom pot and bringing the pot to a boil over high heat.
Place the eggplant into the steamer basket and steam on high, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes until tender (a fork should easily pierce it). Set aside until the eggplant is cool enough to handle.
Keywords: eggplant, healthy , healthy sides, chinese
Black Bean Spare Ribs are a dim sum must! But there’s no need to wait until the next time you are at a Chinese restaurant to enjoy, they are surprisingly easy to make at home. The spare ribs get marinated overnight, and then just tossed in a steamer, making them ideal for entertaining. You can serve them dim sum style, with a bunch of other little bites, or serve them with rice and a veggie for a satisfying supper. Black Bean Spare Ribs are super kid friendly and I predict these will become part of your regular rotation.
First Soak the Spare Ribs
It is customary when making Black Bean Spare Ribs to first soak them in water for an hour or two. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it does drain them of excess blood, which gives them a nice white appearance and keeps the sauce clear. When enjoyed as dim sum, these ribs are usually cut into tiny pieces or they will use rib tips. Sometimes I’m lucky and I will find ribs cut into thirds at the grocery store, but unless I’m at an Asian meat market, it’s rare to find the tiny off-cuts that you find in the traditional dish. But that’s fine, because while I do love the black bean ribs at Chinese restaurants, they’re not exactly what I would call meaty. You’d be hard pressed to eat a couple orders and feel like you’ve eaten anything filling. So I’ve taken inspiration from the flavors, but paired it with what is easiest to find at the grocery store. Spare ribs, technically St. Louis style ribs (because the sternum, cartilage, and rib tips are removed), are almost always available and easy to prepare. Unwrap them and cut them into individual ribs.
Black Bean Spare Ribs Marinade
Marinades are magic! They tenderize and season at the same time, but my favorite part is how it lets me do all the work the day before. The marinade for these spare ribs has several Chinese star players that build amazing flavor. Shaoxing wine, toasted sesame oil, oyster sauce, and white pepper lend piquant, savory depth.
Steam the Spare Ribs
Steaming is the traditional method of cooking for Black Bean Spare Ribs. It’s a great method because it’s easy, hands off, and makes for minimal cleanup. It also creates the perfect texture. Fair warning, it does take a fair amount of time for the ribs to cook through and become tender but still have a little bite to them. That’s the trade off for using full size ribs. But the cooking requires almost no attention, only requiring you to add some additional water to the pot. If you prefer ribs meltingly tender, just increase the steaming time.
The black beans that we use here are actually salted and fermented soybeans. They supercharge any dish with savory, salty, umami goodness. A little goes a long way.
I steam them for about an hour, until the ribs are cooked through and opaque, adding water as needed. That hour of hands off cooking leaves me free to whip up some additional small plates, dim sum style. Some good ones to try are:
Or you can make Black Bean Spare Ribs the main event. Serve with rice and a simple green salad with Sesame Dressing for an easy but unforgettable meal.
Try these and let me know what you think. Rate and comment on the recipe below, and show off your dish by tagging @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 rack St. Louis style pork spare ribs (about a pound)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons de-seeded and chopped green long hot or bell pepper
- 2 Tablespoons de-seeded and chopped red long hot or bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans
- Cut the ribs into individual pieces and put them into a container.
- Rinse the ribs under running water, drain, and cover with fresh water. Put them in the fridge for an hour or 2, changing the water once. Drain the ribs completely and then put them back into the container.
- Add the sugar, salt, wine, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and white pepper to the ribs and mix until the ribs are well coated. Cover and let them marinate in the fridge overnight or a minimum of 1 hour.
- Add the cornstarch to the marinated ribs and mix well until the cornstarch is dissolved.
- Place the ribs into deep plates that will fit your steamer. Once you have plated the ribs, sprinkle the peppers and the fermented black beans evenly over the top.
- Fill the bottom pot of your steaming set with the maximum amount of water allowed and set your steaming baskets with the ribs on top. Cover with a lid and bring the water to a boil on high.
- Steam for 60 minutes, or until the ribs are opaque and cooked through. Rotate the steamer inserts halfway through the cooking time, if you have more than one plate, and add more water to the steamer as needed.
- Test the ribs with a fork. These ribs are traditionally served tender but with some resistance. They are not fall from the bone tender. If you prefer the ribs softer, continue steaming until they are to your liking, making sure to add enough water to the bottom pot.
- Serve Black Bean Spare Ribs as part of a dim sum sum menu or as a meal with a couple veggies and rice!
*These ribs will have a slight chewiness cooked for the given time. If you prefer your ribs more tender, continue cooking the ribs for another 15-20 minutes, making sure to add water as needed to the steamer.
*If you choose to use ribs that are cut into smaller pieces, decrease the steaming time to 20-30 minutes.
Keywords: dim sum, spare ribs, pork, chinese, black bean sauce, gluten free