Since Chinese eggplant has fewer seeds, it is noticeably less bitter than its fellow nightshades. This makes it the perfect ensemble player in this cast of heat, ginger, and garlic. Though not technically a dim sum preparation, Julie Cole developed the recipe as a mouthwatering and hearty vegetarian option at Nom Wah Nolita, and it’s since gone on to be one of the best sellers.
HEAT the neutral oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Do not let them develop any color.
ADD the eggplant, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through (look for the eggplant to appear slightly translucent and no longer white). If the mixture appears dry, add 1 tablespoon neutral oil to moisten.
ADD the miso paste, crushed chili flakes, ground Szechuan peppercorn, white pepper, and chili powder. Stir to combine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
ADD the aji-mirin, black vinegar, sugar, salt, water, and soy sauce and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat back to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
REMOVE from the heat. Pulse the sauce with an immersion blender 2 or 3 times to combine (there will still be chunks). Alternatively, take 2 cups of the sauce and pulse in a blender 1 or 2 times, return the blended sauce to the pot, and stir to combine.
TOP the noodles with the sauce mixture and garnish with basil, scallions, cilantro, pickled chilis, and fried garlic.
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This really exceeded my expectations. I skipped the blending process because everything had already broken down into a thick sauce after 20+ total minutes on the stove. I used udon noodles. This is now my favorite way to eat eggplant, which I really don't even like that much!
All I can get are globe eggplants. Absent any substitution suggestions, I’ll have to figure this out myself.
Delicious. Skipped the directions about blending so that we would have more whole eggplant pieces and added a cornstarch slurry so the sauce would adhere to the noodles.