The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

9:32 PM

What's for Lunch? A Slightly Confused Stir Fry

Posted by Magic of Spice

A Slightly Confused Stir Fry
with Fruit and Feta Stuffed Mini Eggplant 

Why so confused? Well because I made it that way...Asian vegetables with Mediterranean spices...Would't you be confused?  OK, let's just start with the vegetables and work our way down :) As most of you are probably aware by now, we are in Southern California... Specifically Coastal Orange County. Now if you are not familiar with this area you may not be aware, but there is a heavy influence of Asian cuisines. In fact you can find a specialty within most any cultural cuisine, not as broad as LA but pretty broad. This brings us to our vegetables, and quaint Asian markets...You know I am a sucker for fresh organic produce, even if I have no clue what to do with it :)
Angled Luffa, Chinese Long Beans, ginger and Thai Eggplant-Hybrid Tiger

So, about this produce...We have Angled Luffa (aka Chinese okra). As you can see in the photo they are large and have destinct ridges running their length. They are actually a member of  the Summer Squash family and I find to be more similar to zucchini than okra. I was also informed that they should be slightly flexible, rather than firm or stiff to be considered optimal. If they are stiff in structure, they are not fresh.
I also purchased Thai Eggplant (a hybrid Tiger Eggplant). Well we all know I can not resist a mini anything, so they were coming home...As you can see in the photo above, they are small and round. They have a white body with dark green stripes...I mean cute right? They are said to be sweeter than your more traditional varieties of eggplant. 
Then of course there are these lovely Chinese Long Beans. They do not differ much from Western Green Beans other than their length.

Nutmeg, Green Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon Sticks and White Sesame Seeds

Well truthfully each individual spice is common in varied cuisine, but the combination is probably not what you consider when preparing a Stir Fry. 
I started with whole nutmeg, that I crushed (you can grate if not using a grinder), then peeled my green cardamom seeds to release the inner seeds. Crushed up 1/2 cinnamon stick, then ground them to a semi fine powder. The white sesame was used as a garnish. I also added fresh grated ginger, garlic and lemon zest.
So here you have my Confused Stir Fry...I know I generally sick to the rules but...Oh wait, thats not me :) I had a new wok and these lovely veggies, so a lunch we shall have...

What you will need:

For the stir fry:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
(or use 2 tablespoons olive oil and red chili flakes)
1 small shallot, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/2 small ginger root, peeled and grated
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 1 tablespoon combined
(ground cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg)
Salt and pepper to taste
(about 1/2 teaspoon each)
1/8 th cup water
1 hand size bunch long beans
2 angled luffa, see prep below

1/8 th cup dark cherry balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon raw sugar

For the stuffed mini eggplant:
4-6 Thai eggplant
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2-4 teaspoons Greek feta
4-6 teaspoons fresh fruit, or preserves
Pinch of salt and pepper

Veggie prep:

For the angled luffa:
Simply remove the ends, then with a pairing knife or vegetable peeler, remove the
 ridges. Then slice into circular pieces of close to equal thickness.
For the long beans:
Cut of ends and cut length in half or shorter if desired.
For the thai eggplant:
Remove the uppermost top and thin slice off of the bottom of each.
Then make a cross cut of each eggplant going down through the thickness, but
not cutting through. This should look similar to a blooming flower.

Let's get cooking:

For the stir fry:
Place the oil in your wak or large skillet, heat over medium/high heat.
Add garlic, shallot and ginger until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Now add your veggies and stir to coat, allow to cook stirring frequently for 
about 5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften and lightly brown. 
Add your seasonings and water, stir and reduce heat just a bit. Allow to 
simmer uncovered until softened but slightly firm, about 10 minutes or so.
Now add lemon juice, sugar and vinegar and raise heat back to a
 medium/high. Stirring frequently until liquid has reduced almost completely,
and vegetables are tender. Garnish with white sesame seeds.
For the eggplants:
Take prepared eggplants and drizzle with olive oil and lemon. Add a pinch of
salt and pepper. Place in a baking pan in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees (F).
Baste often in juices, and bake until fork tender. About 30 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.Then add fruit or preserves
 and sprinkle with feta.

So now that there is a new Wok in The Ardent Epicure kitchen...???
Serves 2...Adjust the flavors to your liking. Get creative :) 

Magic of Spice-Alisha

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