Recipe: Eggplant and Tofu in Garlic Sauce
By Nell Jefferson Fredericksen of Sugar Grove Studio
I was lucky enough to be in Richmond this past Tuesday, with access to the wealth of local farmers and producers y’all have right there in town. You are so lucky to have options like Fall Line Farms and Local Roots! (I live in a virtual food desert in Franklin County, VA.) While shopping at the Bird House Farmers Market, I picked up some lovely eggplant, Twin Oaks tofu, bok choy, and onions. (See the FLF&LR Shopping list provided at the end of this piece.) A visit to Tan A market on Broad Street sent me home with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and chili oil. So it made really good sense to combine all these treasures into a delicious Asian-inspired dish. There are some advantages to living out here in the hills—we are in the midst of an impressive chanterelle season and I have been foraging this week – so I am putting them into everything (gee, darn)! So here goes:
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce (I forgot to include this in the picture!!)
1 Tablesppon sugar or honey
1 teaspoon chili oil (if you are like us, you can double this to kick it on up)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
6-8 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons olive oil (or lighter oil if you prefer)
¼ cup water
1 Tablespoon corn starch
4-5 small to med fresh eggplant – cut into quarters (or if larger, then largish chunks)
1 block Twin Oaks tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 med or 2 small bok choy, sliced
1 med or 2 small onions, sliced into ½ moons
1 cup of mushrooms (chanterelles, oyster, shitakes, etc)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil (or any oil you prefer)
(you can add pretty much use any vegetable assortment along with the eggplant and tofu – try broccoli, cabbage, summer squash, peppers – have fun and play!)
1) Place the eggplant in a bowl and toss with about a teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 10-15 minutes (about the time it will take you to make the garlic sauce)
2) Make the garlic sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients. In another small bowl whisk together the water and cornstarch. In a small sauce pan, heat the oil and add the minced garlic. Cook the garlic until softened , 1-2 minutes. Add the liquid sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch and water mixture and stir in well. Turn off the heat and set aside.
3) Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet. While the oil heats, drain the eggplant and rinse, then drain again. You can also pat it dry with a paper towel. Add the eggplant to the hot oil and stir fry until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
4) Heat a bit more oil in the wok/skillet and add in the tofu. Stir fry until several sides of each cube are lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl (it can be the same bowl as the eggplant) and set aside.
5) Heat a bit more oil in the wok/skillet and add the onion. Stir fry for a minute or so until the onion starts to turn translucent. Then add in the bok choy and mushrooms (add other vegetables at this time such as squash, broccoli etc.) Stir fry until just tender. Add in the eggplant and tofu, toss to mix and then pour in the garlic sauce. Stir fry a bit more until the sauce thickens and coats all the ingredients.
6) Serve with steamed rice, udon noodles or rice noodles.
Black Beauty eggplant from delli Carpini Farm.
ABOUT NELL: Along with being a whiz in the kitchen and the garden, Nell’s metalsmithing skills won her recognition from the Artisan Center of Virginia. She is one of their Juried Master Artisans. You can find her jewelry and pottery at Crossroads Gallery in RVA, as well as online on her website at https://www.nellfredericksen.com/. She lives in Ferrum, Virginia with her husband Todd, her children Neil and Lily, two horses, four cats, three dogs, and an assortment of reptiles and amphibians (the last of these because she is also a trained herpertologist).
An FLF&LR Shopping List from Katie, Your Marketing Director:
Of course, many of these ingredients are available on the Fall Line Farms and Local Roots page right now. Eggplant is certainly one of our seasonal delights in August!
Here’s a list of suggestions to plug into the search bar:
· Olive oil
· Bok choy (bok choi, pok choi, pak choi. Regular cabbage would work, in a pinch.}
We don’t have tofu on our list, but we do have some gorgeous local tempeh, which you could use instead. Check the Chaotic Good Tempeh page. Nell recommends substituting the 5-Spice tempeh for tofu in this particular recipe.