If you are like me, favorite restaurant foods are always a form of inspiration. One of the best taste treats at Oriental eateries is eggplant and peppers in a spicy brown sauce which turns out to be surprisingly easy to re-create at home with few ingredients and even less effort.
First of all, for those who spurn eggplant, you can easily substitute other veggies like squash or even potatoes in this recipe. For a two person meal, cut your eggplant into bite size pieces – about two cups. I like to use the Indian or Japanese eggplant but the standard large ones are fine too since there is no dis-cernible taste difference. Set this aside.
Chop up a cup of onion [small but not diced] and two cups of bell peppers. Multi-color peppers make for a more attractive plate and the red peppers are always sweeter than the green but use what you have. Sautee the onions, one large clove of diced garlic and the peppers in the oil of your choice. I almost always use a mixture of olive oil and unsalted butter [sometimes with a tablespoon of bacon grease]. Be sure to add salt and pepper and a healthy dash of red pepper flakes [use as much as you like depending on how much heat you prefer].
This takes about ten minutes.
Eggplant cooks a lot faster than the onions and peppers so add them last. I like to move all the other veggies to the side so I can place the eggplant in the center of the skillet to more easily salt and pepper. In about five minutes, the eggplant should be tender without getting mushy. Add a little low sodium chicken broth and a tablespoon of light brown sugar [a nice contrast to the red pepper flakes]. At the same time, mix a tablespoon of corn starch in a few ounces of water and then add as a sauce thickener. Stir for about five minutes to combine all the flavors and you are done. Serve over your favorite rice.
You can also add your meat of choice to this dish. Pre-cook your beef, pork or chicken before adding but fresh shrimp can be added to the dish when you add the eggplant since they cook so quickly [cook un-til tender and pink]. For me, the combination of shrimp, eggplant and the spicy sauce is a combination made in heaven and it is always delicious on non-vegetarian days.