The trick to making this sweet-sour and spicy pork with flash-fried eggplants is to cook the stir fried pork and eggplants separately. Add the flash-fried eggplants to the pork at the end of cooking time and simply toss to blend.
We love eggplants here at home. Inexpensive. Filling. Easy to prepare. Versatile. Cooks in a jiffy. Eggplants are moist and succulent and, if you’re lucky to have Asian eggplants, sweet. What’s not to like? The trouble with eggplants is that cooking them can be tricky. Undercook them by one minute and they would be too tough. Overcook them by a minute and they would be mushy and falling apart.
Eggplants are so great with stir fried dishes but for them to retain their shape despite the constant stirring and still be perfectly cooked, well, you really need to cook them separately. And flash-frying is the way to do it best.
- 4 to 6 eggplants preferably, the Asian variety
- 2 to 3 cups cooking oil
- 200 grams pork belly cut very thinly (1/4 inch or thinner)
- 1 splash rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 bird’s eye chili3s finely sliced
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Cut each eggplant vertically into halves then slice into 1/2-inch wide pieces.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Flash fry the eggplants (see the illustrated guide on flash frying). Scoop out with a spider and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Pour off all the oil from the pan.
- Reheat the pan. Over high heat, add the pork spreading them evenly so that each piece is touching the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in the rice vinegar. Add the sugar, garlic and chilis plus about a tablespoonful of fish sauce. Stir. Cook over high heat without disturbing until the liquid has been absorbed by the meat.
- Continue cooking over high heat with occasional stirring until the pork renders some fat and starts to turn brown around the edges. Pour in half a cup of water, bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pork is done.
- Taste a piece of pork. Adjust the seasonings (salt, vinegar and fish sauce), if needed. Turn up the heat and continue cooking, uncovered, until the mixture is almost dry.
- Add the cooked eggplants to the pork. Sprinkle with a little more fish sauce (the eggplants are still unseasoned at this point, remember). Toss a few times.
- When the eggplants are heated through (30 seconds or so), turn off the heat and immediately transfer the pork and eggplants to a serving place. Keeping them in the hot pan longer will make the eggplants go on cooking and they might turn too soft.
- Sprinkle with more sliced chilis, if you like, before serving.
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