Eggplant with chopped meat

by Ellen Schrecker (from Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook)

Put the pork in a bowl and add the soy sauce and sesame oil to it.

Clean the scallions, then chop them, both the green part and the white, crosswise into tiny pieces, about 1/8" wide. Add half of the chopped scallions to the pork and mix thoroughly. Reserve the rest of the scallions for later use.

Peel the eggplants, then cut them into 1" cubes.

Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your cleaver, then peel. Chop the garlic into little pieces, about the size of grains of uncooked rice.

Peel the ginger, then chop it into even tinier pieces, the size of a match head.


Cooking

Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for 15 seconds, then pour in the oil. It will be ready to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.

When the oil is ready, toss in the chopped ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, using your cooking shovel or spoon in a scooping motion to stir them around in the hot oil and keep them from burning.

Now add the hot pepper paste and stir-fry it, together with the ginger and garlic, for another 30 seconds.

Add the chopped pork and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any large lumps of meat that are sticking together and to see that all the meat gets exposed to the hot oil.

After the meat has cooked for 2 minutes, add the eggplant and stir-fry everything over a high flame for about 4 minutes, gently scooping the pieces of eggplant off the sides of the pan and into the middle.

Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the eggplant mixture, then continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes more.

Pour in the water and add the reserved scallions. Wait until the water comes to a boil, then cover the pan, without reducing the heat, and let the eggplant cook for another 15 minutes, until it has become soft and has absorbed the flavors of the meat sauce. It will then be ready to serve.