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Cocoa Glazed Chinese-Style Garlic Eggplant with Pork Recipe

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Meals with Cacao Nibs

Amid the warmth of the sun-soaked days, the charm of summer beckons us to indulge in the season's bounties. Among the treasures of this harvest season, the unassuming eggplant takes the spotlight. With its lustrous purple skin and velvety texture, the eggplant not only brings versatility to your plate but also serves as a nutritional dynamo, contributing to the well-being of your heart.

Eggplant, a veritable jewel of the earth, offers a plethora of health benefits that resonate particularly with heart health. Laden with attributes such as being naturally low in calories and sodium, while rich in dietary fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, the eggplant is a champion of cardiovascular well-being. The antioxidants found in eggplant, notably nasunin, have been linked to reduced inflammation and enhanced blood vessel function, championing the health of your heart. As the summer harvest unfolds, remember to savor the wholesome goodness of eggplant, and let its virtues infuse vitality into your days.

Ingredients:

  • 3 long Japanese eggplants, quartered and cut into 1.5-inch strips

  • 1 part vinegar + 3 parts water for soaking

  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or tapioca flour

  • 1 bulb garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup ground cacao nibs (for a delightful nutty flavor)

  • 1 cup hot water

  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos

  • 1 tablespoon monk fruit sweetener (or your preferred substitute for 1 tbsp of brown sugar)

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp Hot Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce

  • 2 big pinches of MSG*

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

Instructions:

  1. Start by soaking the eggplant strips in a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water for a minimum of 10 minutes. After soaking, drain and rinse the eggplant thoroughly. Coat the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of rice flour or tapioca flour, then set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of hot water, 2 tablespoons of coconut aminos, 1 tablespoon of monk fruit sweetener (or your chosen sugar substitute), the finely ground cacao nibs, 1/2 teaspoon of Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp Hot Sauce, 1 teaspoon of Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce, and 2 big pinches of MSG. Mix the ingredients well and set aside.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped garlic and sauté until it turns a light golden brown, infusing the oil with its aromatic essence.

  4. Remove the cooked garlic from the pan. Add the ground pork to the wok and cook until it's done. Remove the pork and garlic from the pan.

  5. Cook the coated eggplant in the wok, stirring frequently, for about 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat, until the eggplant starts to soften.

  6. Add back the cooked ground pork and sautéed garlic to the wok with the eggplant.

  7. Pour the prepared mixture of coconut aminos-cacao over the eggplant. Ensure that the eggplant, pork, and garlic are well-coated with the liquid. If needed, add a little hot water to achieve the desired level of coverage.

  8. Continue cooking the eggplant on medium-high heat for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce reduces to a delectably syrupy consistency.

  9. When the sauce has coated the eggplant and pork to perfection, your Cocoa Glazed Chinese-Style Garlic Eggplant with Pork is ready to be savored.0

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serve this delightful dish over a bed of steamed rice, hot ramen noodles, cold buckwheat noodles or as a delectable side to your summer feasts. Let the marriage of unique flavors, accentuated by the nutty essence of cacao nibs and the delightful chili kick, transform your summer dining experience into a true celebration of taste and well-being.

*Note: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly used in many cuisines. While some individuals may be sensitive to MSG, there is no conclusive evidence that it is harmful to the general population. MSG is naturally occurring in foods like tomatoes and cheese and can be a good substitute for excessive salt. As with any ingredient, use MSG in moderation and according to your preferences and health considerations. If you have concerns, consult a healthcare professional. For more information, you can read "The Rotten Science Behind the MSG Scare" on Science History Institute's website.

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