Craving take-out? Try this healthy and hearty, vegetarian dish instead!
This spicy eggplant stir-fry with mushrooms has got your craving for Chinese take-out covered. We figured out how to cook that eggplant in significantly less oil to minimize saturated fat intake. By the same token, we added strips of portobello mushroom to mimic the umami provided by marinated beef. We’re pretty sure this meatless stir-fry is one for the ages and we hope you think so too.
Microwaving Egg-Plant Cuts Cooking Time
I’m not gonna lie, I like to use my microwave in a pinch, especially to prep veggies. The LA Times helped me figure out this hack and reading the science behind it is totally worth it. Anyway, in regard to eggplant, successful roasting typically requires high heat and much longer than I’d like to spend babysitting it, anywhere between 25 to 45 minutes.
If you’re down for chopping off a major chunk of time spent waiting for one ingredient to cook, then try this. First, fill a microwave proof glass dish with the eggplant. Then, loosely cover it with a good fitting lid (also microwave proof). After that, cook for five minutes. By now, the eggplant should have somewhat, but not fully collapsed. If this is the case with yours, hit it for another three minutes.
Side note: Older microwaves can take longer than newer models so you might need to add a few minutes if the magic doesn’t happen.
Marinate Mushrooms To Mimic Meat
The cool thing about marinades is that they easily transform into your finishing sauce at the end, making your two-fer into a one-time. In order to make this Sichuan style marinade accessible, I put together a list of ingredients most pantries already have. If you don’t have rice wine vinegar, then that’s an absolute must, and it’s easy to find. Mirin, an Asian rice wine, is also really nice, but not an absolute. Otherwise, we’re using:
- tamari (or soy sauce)
- Mirin (or white wine, Vodka, or nothing)
- crushed red pepper
- black peppercorns (or black pepper)
The mushrooms need at least 20 minutes to marinate, and you may do this well ahead of time if needed, up to a day. Also, don’t cut the gills off those portobellos, unless you really like taking extra steps in the kitchen. Today’s chefs really like to utilize the entire vegetable, in an effort to prevent waste.
How To Finalize Spicy Eggplant Stir-Fry With Mushrooms
Because the veggie stir-fry doesn’t take very long, and a cornstarch slurry sounds difficult, do not let this intimidate you. I actually prep my slurry well in advance so I’m not running to the pantry searching for the one thing I seldom use: cornstarch. If you make it well ahead (and by that I mean just adding a few tablespoons of cold water to cornstarch in a tiny bowl and stirring), you will be fine.
When you are ready to introduce the sauce to the cooked mushrooms, combine a few tablespoons of sauce with your slurry. Add that mix directly after pouring the marinade in with the cooked mushrooms. Stir until thickened, and season to taste. Check the recipe notes for ideas if it’s not to your liking.
For tonight’s dinner, I added half a bag of kale at the end to give us some greens to go with our meal. You can do that with any green: spinach, arugula, or kale finish it well. We used a quinoa, buckwheat, millet combo as our starch, but any rice or buckwheat noodle would also taste great. Get your chopsticks ready, because this is a good time to use them!
- 2/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup mirin optional
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns or black pepper
- 12 ounces portabella mushroom caps sliced 1/4 inch slivers
- 1 1/2 pound eggplant cubed
- 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon date syrup optional
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
Combine all marinade ingredients and pour over mushrooms. Set aside. Get your starch of choice (rice, quinoa etc,) going while the mushrooms marinate. 20-30 minutes
Put eggplant cubes in a large glass container and cover with microwave proof lid. Microwave on high for five-eight minutes. Check after five minutes to see if the cubes have altered a bit to appear somewhat soggy, as cooked eggplant looks. Add another three minutes if necessary to ensure softness.
In a large frying pan or wok on high heat, add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add eggplant and season with salt, if desired. Stir-fry 5-8 minutes and then remove from pan, set aside.
Add mushrooms and stir-fry. Once all the mushrooms have cooked, make a slurry of corn starch and cold water in a small container. Add some marinade mix to the slurry and stir. Add the rest of the sauce to the pan or wok and taste. If the sauce isn’t sweet enough, add a teaspoon of sweetener of choice. A splash of orange or pineapple juice tastes fantastic.
Serve on top of your starch of choice.
Try adding a few dried Chinese or Arbol chilis right before adding the sauce to the pan at the end. Don’t eat the chilis but use them as garnish for added flair and more intense heat.
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 10
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