Monday, August 9, 2010

Vegetarian Chinese: Mongolian Eggplant and Lemon-Cashew Fried Rice

For years after I became a vegetarian, due to lack of access to meat-free restaurants, I chalked Chinese food up to "what I used to eat." My poor, meat-loving husband went right along with it, to his chagrin. Imagine his joy when I began dabbling in Chinese cooking. Since then, we've enjoyed many dishes and this is one of the favorites.

Mongolian Eggplant

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp chili sesame oil (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
3/4 cup sweetener of your choice (I used raw sugar)
1 large eggplant or several smaller Chinese eggplants
3 stalks of green onion, sliced in 1 inch sections
5 mushrooms, sliced
red pepper flakes
corn starch

In a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, saute garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds. Add in soy sauce, water, sugar, chili oil and bring to a boil, dissolving the sugar. Remove from heat and set aside for later.

Meanwhile, cut eggplant into bite sized pieces and coat in a thin layer of cornstarch. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Heat a few tbsp of oil in a clean pan and saute eggplant and mushrooms until golden brown. Add in the sauce, green onion and a dash or two of red pepper flakes, simmer for about 2 minutes. Serve.

Lemon-Cashew Fried Rice

2 stalks celery, chopped
1 zucchini chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots and/or frozen peas
1 egg (optional)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews

Cook rice according to directions, at least two hours before you begin dinner. When done, place in fridge to cool.

When it's time to cook the fried rice, remove the rice from the fridge and set aside. Saute the vegetables and garlic for a few minutes. When the veggies begin to soften, add in the rice, soy sauce, lemon juice and egg. Stir until the egg is cooked. Serve with the mongolian eggplant.

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