It was maybe a year and a half ago that I discovered the world of food blogs, and with that vastly expanded my culinary horizons and stimulated my appetite for cooking. At first, it was a very haphazard business- clicking at links willy-nilly, checking a few new favorites over and over in search of new posts. The whole thing was rather time-consuming and inefficient. So I still remember the moment when, in the midst of a side-tracked discussion at book club, someone said to me in astonishment, if not derision, “You don’t know about RSS feeds?!” (Keep in mind this is a particularly technology savvy bunch, despite the fact that our gatherings are organized around one of the oldest art forms around, the written word.) After a round of chuckles, I admitted that no, I hadn’t a clue what an RSS feed was. Duly enlightened that I could essentially subscribe to my favorite blogs, having the content delivered to me automatically, I quickly amassed a list of perhaps 50 blogs that I now read regularly. And like most of you who use the same, I regularly mark the new recipes that catch my eye. I try to be discriminating, but somehow the list of starred posts in my Google Reader has grown to unwieldy proportions.
In an effort to tame the list, to start to winnow it down to manageable numbers, I went back to the very beginning. Yes, this recipe for Chinese eggplant and green beans with cellophane noodles (found here on Coconut & Lime) was, in fact, the very first recipe I ever starred. Given that the recipe was originally posted just over a year ago, in mid-January 2007, I figured that it was high-time that I tried it, thereby embarking upon the slow (and most likely Sisyphean) task of clearing out the starred items.
I played around with the proportions on this one a bit, figuring that stir-fries are meant to inspire some improvisation. I went with several small Japanese eggplants rather than one Chinese, I added some chicken (cut into small pieces, velveted, and pan fried before being added into the mix for the last few minutes of cooking), and I omitted the oyster sauce. The verdict: good, if not earth shattering. It was definitely a good change from my stir-fries of old which tended to revolve around tofu and broccoli with a peanut or curry sauce, served over rice. It made a nice light meal for a weeknight with leftovers that were perfect for lunch the next day. Only several hundred more recipes to go before I clear out that starred list…
Chinese eggplant and green beans with cellophane noodles (serves 4)
3 small Japanese eggplants (or a larger Chinese eggplant), halved and thickly sliced
2 large hand-fulls of green beans, halved with ends trimmed
1 cup bean curd, cubed
1 inch piece ginger, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small chili pepper, minced
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup minced green onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Combine broth, soy sauce, chili paste, sugar, green onions, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Add oil and sesame oil to a large skillet or wok with a lid and set over a high flame. Add ginger, garlic, and chili pepper. Stir fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the eggplant and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes until most of the oil is absorbed. Add the green beans and stir fry 1 minute.
3. Add the broth mixture and the bean curd, bring to a boil and cover the pot. Put the noodles in cold water and set the timer for 5 minutes. After the five minutes, add them to the pot. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the noodles are tender and the liquid has been absorbed.