from one generation to the next
Minced (ground) meat is often looked upon as a second class citizen by carnivores, a throwback to a time when butchers made their mince from scraps and trimmings of beef with a generous measure of fat. It was meat for people on a budget. Times have changed thankfully, and cooks are now demanding lean, prime quality minced pork, lamb and chicken along with premium cuts of beef.
This quick week night dinner began life as a recipe for Pork and Eggplants from Adam Liaw’s “Big Pot.”. As often happens when I try recipes from a new book, the minute I left the dinner table I was annotating the page, in pencil, adjusting ingredient quantities, modifying the method and refining the recipe to better suit the way I prefer to cook and eat.
Eggplants can be tricky to handle. As well as absorbing loads of oil, they have a tendency to fall apart if even slightly overcooked. I found that sliced finger eggplants worked the best in this dish, cut into thick slices, tossed in a small amount of oil and oven roasted. The oven took care of the eggplant while I prepared the meat.
We’ve tried this dish made with both pork and beef and much to my surprise we preferred the beef.
This dish has that delicious spicy, sweet savouriness that the Chinese do so well, a perfect dish to serve with simple steamed bok choy and rice for a quick week night dinner.
Spicy Beef with Eggplants
4 finger eggplants
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely julienned
1 large red chilli, sliced
500g lean minced rump steak
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon tamari or dark soy
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons castor sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoon cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoon water
2 spring onions sliced
Preheat the oven to 180C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
Cut the eggplants into 4cm thick slices. Place them in a bowl, drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the top then toss to coat. Lay the eggplants in a single layer on the tray and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
While the eggplants are cooking, prepare the ginger, garlic and chilli, measure out the sauces, spices and seasonings, slice the spring onions.
When the eggplants are close to finished heat the wok, add a tablespoon of peanut oil and briefly stir fry the ginger, garlic and chilli.
Crumble the meat into the wok and stir fry until well coloured.
Add the sauces, spices, stock and the cornflour slurry. Return the wok to the boil and high simmer until the meat is in a rich thick sauce.
Stir through the cooked eggplant, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve.
Serves 3-4 with rice and vegetables.