hunan eggplant with quorn
adapted from this recipe at appetite for china
2 dried wood ear mushrooms (if in small pieces, a handful)
2 medium sized eggplants
70mL vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 small red chilies, minced (optional)
1 tbsp chili bean sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar, chopped in small pieces
60mL vegetable stock
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
salt to taste
3 scallion stalks, thinly sliced
pour boiling water over the wood ear mushrooms and let them soak for about 10 minutes. if not already in small pieces, cut up in strips.
cut the eggplant into quarters along the length and slice them a little over 1 cm thick. heat the oil in a wok over high heat until just beginning to smoke. add the eggplants and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until the outsides turn golden brown. remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels.
turn the heat down to medium and add the quorn, garlic, chilies and mushrooms and stir-fry for a minute. add the chili bean sauce and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. add palm sugar and return the eggplant to the wok. pour in the vegetable stock, soy sauce and sesame oil. simmer for a few minutes while the flavors penetrate the eggplants. don't be afraid to be generous with the salt because there is no bacon in this dish. serve hot over rice.
the verdict? hmmm, not exactly like what we order from magasasa. way less oil and even tastes healthier. of course quorn and wood ear mushrooms can't take the place of the wonder that is pork belly, but the bite of the mushrooms was very satisfying and of course i love the texture of eggplant. the spiciness cleared up my nose almost immediately! to veganize this dish, you can replace quorn with textured soy protein that's been soaked in vegetable stock. next time i will maybe add a few generous glugs of chili oil.