In the height of summer, my cooking simplifies. I avoid strong flavors as to savor the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and corn, the crunch of the cucumbers and the licorice flavor of the basil and tarragon. Even New England summer seafood dishes are minimally adorned… lobster salad has little more seasoning that lemon and mayonnaise. Fried clams may be the most complex with the pickle-spiked remoulade sauce.
But after weeks of “simple cooking”, I’m craving Chinese… specifically, my new favorite dish - Cantonese Lobster. As I was preparing my shopping list, I realized that I had all the produce ingredients in the garden – cucumbers, scallions, garlic and ginger (and I even had some eggs from the farm in the fridge).
In the Chinese style of entertaining, I decided to prepare a second dish – Beef and Eggplant. Again, I had all the ingredients from the garden except the beef.
It was wholly gratifying to shop at the market only for the meats necessary.
Beef with Eggplant
1/2 pound sirloin steak, cut into strips
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. gin
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. canola oil
1 tbs. corn starch
2 small eggplants
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp. fresh garlic chopped
oil for frying
scallions for garnish
Sauce1 tbs. bean sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tsp. sugar
2 tbs. oyster sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1. In a large boil, combine the beef, 1 tsp. of ginger, gin, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. oil and corn starch. Let beef marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. toss with 1 tsp. salt. Let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse of salt and pat dry eggplant.
3. Mix together ingredients for sauce and set aside.
4. In a large skillet, add 1/4 inch of canola oil. Heat to 350F. Add eggplant slices and cook until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the eggplant and set aside. Drain oil from the pan except, one tablespoon. Return pan to heat. Add the garlic and the ginger and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the beef and stir-fry until the meat loses it's pink edges, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce and cook until it thickens. Stir in the eggplant to coat with sauce.
5. Garnish with scallions.
From the garden: garlic, ginger, scallions, cucumbers, eggplant.