Asian style crispy chicken and eggplant

I wasn’t really sure what to call this recipe. It’s definitely crispy, thanks to good ol’ corn starch and it’s definitely got some pretty potent Asian flavors going on like soy sauce, ginger and garlic, so I settled on calling it: Asian style crispy chicken and eggplant. But it’s not authentically from one particular part of the world, at least that I’m aware of. Maybe it counts as some sort of fusion food, although again, I’m not even sure which countries are fused together in this. It’s a concoction of sorts, but a delicious one, none the less.

Let’s talk about eggplant. There are a few different types of eggplant. I used two medium sized purple and white striped eggplant. I’m not sure what the correct term is for this type of eggplant but I’ve heard them called “zebra” eggplant. If you can’t find “zebra” eggplant, you could use regular Italian eggplant (the most popular eggplant in this part of the world), or Chinese eggplant, or whatever is fresh at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. I’ve actually never cooked with white eggplant before so I can’t say if that would work well or not in this recipe, but I can confidently say any other eggplant would be just fine. Note to self: Try white eggplant.

This dish is a real winner. There are some dinners you just know you get right and this happens to be one of those dinners. I can tell because Matt, although not picky, doesn’t usually rave about food, but he told me multiple times how good this dish was. So, I must be onto something.

Asian style crispy chicken and eggplant

5 tablespoons of canola oil
2 small “zebra” eggplants (or whatever eggplant you prefer), cut into small bite sized pieces
1 lbs of chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces
3/4 cup of corn starch, plus 1 tablespoon
salt & pepper
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine
Juice of 1.5 limes
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 knob (about 1 heaping tablespoon) of fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

Asian style crispy chicken and eggplant

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet (preferrably cast iron).

2. Coat the eggplant pieces in the 3/4 cup of corn starch and add them to the hot oil, removing as much excess corn starch as possible before dropping them into the oil (I did this using a slotted spoon). Fry for about 3 minutes in the oil, until the eggplant is slightly browned and cooked through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove to a plate and set to the side.

3. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Repeat the corn starch process with the chicken: coat the chicken in the remaining 3/4 cup of corn starch and remove as much excess as possible. Then, add the chicken into the hot oil and fry for about 5 minutes until the chicken has a nice brown, crispy crust and is cooked through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove to the plate with the eggplant.

4. Whisk together the soy sauce, wine, lime juice, garlic, ginger, sugar and 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan and lower the heat. Pour in the sauce and let it thicken. This should almost happen instantly. After about 30 seconds, add the chicken and eggplant back to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce and warm through for about 1-2 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the red pepper flakes and cilantro over the top. Mix well. Serve over jasmine rice.

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