Char Siu - Style Eggplant

In the Rivera clan we love eggplant. And we prepare it in whatever fashion: fried (breaded or not), braised, sauteed, baked, you name it. That said, I'm always seeking novel ways to prepare the vegetable---which led me to char siu- style eggplant.

Char Siu is is a popular way to flavor and cook meat in East Asia. Now, like everything else, there are variations in the way it is prepared. It is mainly a mix of soy sauce, sugar or honey, hoisin sauce and five-spice powder. Some recipes add ouster-flavored sauce and wine to it as well. In Cantonese cooking, char siu literally means "fork burn/roast," where strips of meat, typically pork, are marinated in the char siu sauce, then skewered with long forks and cooked over a fire. In Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, the sauce is mixed with rice. In Japan it is called chāshū and likewise is used in cooking meat, bu they omit the sugar and five-spice powder. In Hawaii, it's used in cooking chicken, wild birds, and even goat meat.

So it came to mind: Why not try it with eggplant? If char siu can be used with meats and rice, why not vegetables? And the result is the dish given below. You can serve it as an appetizer, or side dish, or as an entree with rice, couscous or whatever grain desired. It makes for a great vegetarian meal. Coupled with a bottle of your favorite white wine (or light red, for that matter), you can't miss on this one.


1 medium eggplant
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder*
3 tablespoons white wine

1. Wash eggplant under cold running water. Trim off the end and cut eggplant into 1/4-inch slices (do not peel). Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
3. In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey, hoisin sauce, oyster-flavored sauce, five-spice powder and wine. Toss eggplant with the mixture and marinate at least 1 hour in the fridge. You can also place eggplant in a large zip-lock bag, add mixture and marinate that way.
4. Remove eggplant from marinade, place in a baking dish (I prefer cast-iron) and bake until tender (about 30).
    Yield: 4 servings.

Note: Five-spice powder can be obtained in any Asian or Oriental market, or health food store.