I had seen some nostalgia for Barbara Tropp's China Moon Cafe recently, so when Kudzu suggested I make her Strange-Flavor Eggplant, it seemed a natural. I had the book.
Strangely, though, I had never used a single recipe from it. It seems to be one of those snaky cookbooks that goes, "Three weeks ago, shoot an elk." I didn't shoot an elk three weeks ago! What will I do?
Nothing, yeah, that's easier.
Well, this time, Barbara allowed that I would be able to make and eat the food on the same day (even though she urged an overnight in the fridge before devouring).
The recipe looks complex, but it's because she's being careful to take you by the hand, stay with me, not scary.
And it came out great, great I tell you!
What is "strange" about it? I think "strange" is just a cute euphemism for "interesting." "Yummy." "Why didn't I think of this?" "Ha ha ha! 'Splosions in your mouth!"
The flavors are ginger, garlic, vinegar, chile peppers, brown sugar, scallion, soy sauce. The eggplant is roughly pureed with these seasonings, in an order that Tropp makes perfectly clear. It's easy.
We served it with dark sesame crackers, which make for a terrible photo, but really good eating.