If you are like me, you might be spending some time alone over the holidays. And who would cook a turkey for one? For me, holiday treats include tasty morcels of meat, something I don't usually eat. And this dish hits all the right savoury, rich, wintery notes for me. The original is a beef only dish, but I add veggies to everything, I'm just wired that way! So if you don't like eggplant, don't worry, just leave it out.
Mongolian Beef & Eggplant
Adapted from Just a Taste
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 red chili peppers, whole
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 japanese eggplants (the long, skinny, bright purple ones)
1 (1-pound) flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 scallions (green parts only), sliced into 1-inch pieces
Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a small saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the ginger, chili peppers and garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and water, stirring to combine.
Stir in the brown sugar and increase the heat to medium. Bring the sauce to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4-inch pieces, then toss it with the cornstarch. Place the coated pieces of steak in a sieve and shake off any excess cornstarch. Allow the steak to sit 10 for minutes.
Slice the eggplant on the diagonal, about every 1/4 inch.
Place a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat and add 2 T vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the beef to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes until it is seared on all sides but barely cooked in the center. Remove the steak from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer it onto a paper towel-lined plate. Add more oil if needed and stir-fry the eggplant for 3 - 5 minutes, until tender. Blot on paper towels. Pour any excess oil out of the wok.
Place the sauté pan back over medium heat. Add the prepared sauce to the hot pan (it should come to a boil almost immediately), then add the reserved steak and eggplant and cook at a boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add the sliced scallions, stirring to combine.
Serve with white or brown rice.
PS The chili peppers are there for flavouring, so you can pick them out before nomming down on this.
Image by Thomas Hawk