I’m crazy about eggplants. Especially when they’re roasted for a long time until their meat is very tender and sweet. The way they melt in the mouth and their umami flavor remind me of meat’s fat. The longer they cook the sweeter they get.
For this dish I used three different types of eggplants; regular, which is the chubby with dark skin, Chinese eggplant, long (much longer than in my illustration), skinny and purple and Filipino which is also skinny and long, but shorter than the Chinese and its color is a mixture of the dark eggplant and Chinese eggplant.
How to buy eggplants: you should look for the eggplants that feel light in your hand and have smooth and shiny skin. Also check the stem, it should be green and looking fresh.
You can use baharat instead of Chinese five spice, it would taste more Middle Eastern but would be delicious too.
Slow cooked eggplants & shallots
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 5 large shallots or 2 large onions - sliced roughly
- 4 scallions - chopped roughly
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger or 1 teaspoon grated
- 4 eggplants - sliced or diced (the fat ones, sliced and quartered)
- 1 teaspoon five spice blend - cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns or baharat
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Warm the oil in a medium Dutch oven (or another heat proof pot) over high heat. Add the shallots, scallions and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the 5 spice blend and mix. Add the eggplants and mix. Sprinkle salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add ½ cup water, black vinegar and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Uncover the pot, check and add salt if necessary, then roast until the eggplants are extremely tender and caramelized, about 25-30 minutes. Serve as a side or over jasmine or basmati rice for light dinner.