Fried indulgence is what I would like to call them. For anyone who never liked eggplants before…this dish can surely change your mind. I had this dish for the first time ever a couple of months back in an authentic Chinese restaurant. Eggplants never tasted so good to me before, this dish totally changed my outlook towards them. I came home and scurried through the net to find the recipe. And after three relentless days of narrowing down my search. I ended up with this recipe and gave it a go.
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Hot (Chinese) chili powder – ½ or 1 tsp
- Hot paprika – ½ or 1 tsp
- About 6 (1 1/2 pounds total) Chinese (long) eggplants, trimmed, peeled and cut lengthwise into 2- or 3-inch-long, thick “steak” fries (about 8 fries from each eggplant)
- Cornstarch – ½ cup
- Leaves and tender stems from 4 to 6 stems cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Heat at least 4 inches of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees.
- Place a wire rack over several layers of paper towels.
- Combine the chili powder and paprika (to taste) in a small bowl.
- Meanwhile, wet the eggplant fries with a little water. Spread the cornstarch on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Working in batches, lightly and evenly coat the eggplant fries with the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Discard any remaining cornstarch.
- Carefully add about 8 fries at a time to the hot oil; fry for 2 minutes, or until just browned, crisped and tender. Use a Chinese skimmer or slotted spatula to transfer to the rack to drain. Repeat to fry all the eggplant.
- Transfer the still-warm, crisped eggplant fries to a serving bowl; season with the chili powder-paprika mixture to taste; this dish is supposed to be spicy, and, if you can stand it, you should use enough of the mixture to color the eggplant fries a reddish-orange. Toss quickly with the cilantro; serve right away.