Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spicy and Sour Eggplant with Tempeh and Green Beans

This is pretty much my favorite thing I've made this year. The textures are varied, and it's oily enough to be satisfying but not gross. I love the meltiness of fried eggplant, but here it shares the stage with more healthily cooked things like steamed tempeh and green beans.

That everything needs to be mised-en-place and then added at the end makes this recipe pretty fail-proof. You should end up with succulent tempeh, melty eggplant, and slightly crisp green beans. Oh, and celery is a thing! Whenever I get a lot of it in dishes at Thai restaurants, I assume they're just bulking out the dish, but it actually contributes a subtle bitterness to this dish, which balances out some of the sweet and salty flavors.

I think basil would be an obvious and delicious addition as well.

Spicy and Sour Eggplant with Tempeh and Green Beans

canola oil -- enough to fill 1/2 in of a saucepan
1 large or 2 small eggplant, 1-in cubes (skins ok)
1 c green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-in pieces
1 block tempeh, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 c water
1 TB tamari
1 tsp tamarind paste
pinch sugar
1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 red chilies
5 garlic
1/2 in ginger
2 stalks celery
mint, basil, scallions, etc

1. In a medium saucepan, heat canola oil to very hot and fry eggplant pieces. It will take about 3-4 minutes until they are soft and slightly browned.
2. Steam tempeh and green beans by pouring boiling water over them separately and then draining after 10 minutes.
3. Prepare simmering sauce in a pyrex by mixing water, tamari, tamarind, and sugar.
4. In a large saucepan or frying pan, heat oil. Saute onion with chilies until soft and fragrant, then add garlic, ginger, and celery. Continue sauteeing until everything is soft and slightly cooked. Then add steamed and drained tempeh and cook several minutes.
5. Now add simmering sauce and reduce heat slightly. Cook tempeh in sauce until it is mostly reduced (5-10 min), then add beans and eggplant right before the end.
6. Serve hot with noodles or rice. Garnish with cilantro, lime, sriracha, and other herbs as desired. Serves about 4.

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