Back in 2002, we moved to our home, located in a very small cul de sac in the suburbs. The neighborhood included a variety of ethnicities and professions, which was a good fit for our family. After a few years of settling in, I found a couple neighbors who had a common interest in cooking: Winnie, from China and Susanne, from Germany. That being said, they have both lived the U.S., much longer than I have. You see we are all “cookers”. We cooked for our families every night and we actually enjoyed it!
Close to 10 years ago, we decided that we should share recipes and teach each other our favorite dishes. Putting all our cooking years together, we actually have about 100 years of experience combined! Now that’s pretty amazing right? The fact that we all came from different backgrounds meant we could learn different styles of cooking and recipes. Over the years, our little monthly get together blossomed into special friendships. Not only do we share food, we share our life, culture and our many things about our families.
We decided that we would meet once a month and go to one person’s home and they would teach us any dish. But, we soon realized that since we were all so comfortable in the kitchen, one dish wasn’t enough. We now average about 3 dishes in one get together. I’ve learned Chinese techniques and ingredients I never knew about from Winnie. I’ve learned about German foods, baking and substituting ingredients from Susanne. And I taught Japanese and miscellaneous recipes that I picked up along the way. We all gained so much from one another.
Now, each of our lives have changed and we don’t cook for our families like we did in the past. But our interest in food and life will always be there. As life happens, we don’t meet as often either, but when we do, we just have so much fun together.
I’m posting some of Winnie’s recipes now because over the years, we all can’t seem to remember what we learned….this is a way of keeping a record and also a way that we can share with others. Because we are quite experienced in the kitchen, sometimes we don’t have recipes and we don’t measure. Winnie is one who is the most spontaneous. We like to go to the market and buy what looks fresh. But, at one point we do need some sort of guidance. So, this is my effort of putting together recipes. Please understand that you are always free to adjust the seasoning, substitute ingredients and put your own flair to these recipes. That’s what makes it so fun. And it is our hope that our kids will be the next generation of “cookers”!
Here is Winnie’s Fragrant Eggplant – Enjoy!
- 3-4 long Chinese Eggplants
- 1 " fresh ginger chopped
- 6 spring onions chopped
- 4-5 tablespoons Yoshida sauce - teriyaki sauce. If this is not available use soy sauce and some sugar and a bit of stock in your recipe.
- several tablespoons Chinese rice wine
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 star anise
- several Chinese peppercorns
- chop top of eggplant off
- thinly slice eggplant on a diagonal but do not slice all the way through, just half way
- flip the eggplant and slice the other side in the same manner, don't go too deep or it will fall apart. This creates a beautiful accordion shape and allows the eggplant to absorb the marinade.
- Fry both sides of the eggplant on medium heat, brushing with oil making sure it doesn't stick to the pan or burn. You know it's done when it's soft.
- Gently, place it on a plate, so you keep the form in tact.
- In the same frying pan, fry the spring onions and ginger, add the rice wine, yoshida sauce and other spices and let simmer.
- Pour hot sauce over eggplant and let marinate. Serve room temperature.