Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

April 23, 2015


That, in case you missed the reference, is the title of one of my favorite Laurie Colwin pieces.  It is also exactly where I found myself last night.  I've noticed that supermarkets are suddenly selling "baby eggplants" which fill in nicely for Asian eggplants. Bought one, and then stood in the kitchen, contemplating it.

I suddenly thought about the eggplant dish I learned when I was taking lessons at the Yangshuo Cooking School in Guilin, China.  I remembered loving it – and that it was incredibly easy.  What I had not remembered was how extremely delicious it was.  I'm sorry to say I liked it so much that we'd eaten it all before I remembered to take a picture. So no picture, but here's the recipe. 

What you’ll need: 

1 small baby eggplant (about half a pound)

2 cloves of garlic


fermented black beans

oyster sauce

Asian chile paste

soy sauce


Prep Work:

Cut the eggplant into long thin strips, then cut those in half. You don’t have to be fussy about this, but you want to end up with pieces about 3 inches long and a quarter inch wide. 

Smash the garlic and grate the ginger until you have a couple of teaspoons.

Rinse the salt from half a teaspoon of Chinese fermented black beans. 

Measure out a third cup of water, then add a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a quarter teaspoon of chile paste (more if you like your spice), and the rinsed black beans.

Slice the scallions into long, thin shards, then cut them into 2 inch lengths. 


Get a wok so hot that a drop of water, flicked in, skitters across the surface.  Add 3 tablespoons of oil, swirl it around the pan, then throw in the eggplant slices and toss them about until they’re soft and slightly seared on the edges.  Add the garlic and ginger and toss until the scent rises above the pan, then add the water mixture.  Stir fry for a couple of minutes; the eggplant should now be coated with a glossy sauce.  Add the scallion threads, toss for a few more seconds and serve to two happy people.


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1 Comment

  • Jill Dalton says:

    Ruth – I would love to make your recipe for the spicy noodle dish that is your husband’s favorite. Please advise what brand of Chinese hot bean paste with garlic that you use and where to find it. I’ve looked in several stores and get confused by all the Asian condiments. If you could send a picture with the label that would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

    PS – was talking about Garlic and Sapphires to some of my friends the other day. Love that book!