Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken have cooked this sweet-tangy Chinese-flavored dish for years, often omitting the pork and serving the eggplant with stir-fried rice noodles to make it a satisfying vegetarian entrée. If you're worried about a guest biting into a chile, discard them before serving; otherwise leave them in for fun.
Plus: More Pork Recipes and Tips
2 pounds small eggplants
1 tablespoon coarse salt
About 1/2 cup olive oil
Four 6-ounce boneless pork loin chops, pounded 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
Table salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons seasame seeds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 to 10 dried hot red chiles, such as árbol
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
How to Make It
Trim the eggplants and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Put the slices in a colander, sprinkle with the coarse salt and let drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze the eggplant slices to remove the liquid, then pat dry with paper towels.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Working in batches, arrange the eggplant in a single layer and cook over high heat until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Cook the remaining eggplant, using 1 tablespoon of oil for each batch.
Heat 1 more tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Toss the pork with salt, pepper and the cayenne. Add half of the pork to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown the remaining pork in 1 tablespoon of oil ans add to the plate.
In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the large skillet. add the onions and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the chiles and cook until the skins begin to blister, 1 to 2 minutes. Lower the heat to moderate, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, vinegar and sugar and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the eggplant, pork and any juices to the skillet, toss well and cook until heated through. Stir in the cilantro leaves and sesame seeds and serve.
Pair with a rich California rosé, like Simi's Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon.
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