Welcome to a new mini-series on the blog! For the next four Tuesdays, I’m going to be posting recipes that I created inspired by amazing dishes that we’ve had at some of the best restaurants in the world. This first entry in the series is based on a course from Quintonil in Mexico City.
(Note: all the recipes in this series were inspired by these restaurants’ dishes, and aren’t meant to be exact re-creations.)
This is one of those unusual recipes that actually includes the stems of shiitake mushrooms. They get to braise for so long that their characteristic toughness melts away, so feel free to use the whole thing! The whole dish is absolutely packed with flavor, from the rich umami of the mushrooms to the sweet depth of the black garlic to the tangy Meyer lemon juice.
Braised Shiitake Eggplant with Black Garlic Sauce and Macadamia Nuts
- 1/2 Chinese eggplant
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 finely minced shiitake mushrooms
- 2 finely minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- salt to taste
- 1 cup broth chicken, beef, or vegetable
For the sauce:
- 10 black garlic cloves
- 4 fresh garlic cloves
- 4 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice note: Meyer lemon juice strikes the perfect balance of sweet and sour. If you don’t have access to Meyer lemons, use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of orange juice.
- 8 macadamia nuts
Cook the eggplant
- Cut the 1/2 eggplant in quarters lengthwise, so you have four wedges of eggplant.
- In a pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the 3 finely minced shiitake mushrooms, 2 finely minced cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons sugar, and a generous pinch of salt.
- Cook the mixture on medium heat until very fragrant, a minute or two.
- Add 1 cup of broth along with the eggplant. Bring to a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for about 25 minutes or until the mixture is nearly dry and the eggplant is very soft. Stir regularly, and more frequently near the end to prevent burning.
Make the sauce:
- In a mortar and pestle, grind the 10 black garlic cloves, 4 fresh garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of Meyer lemon juice.
- Once the mixture is fairly smooth, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of Meyer lemon juice one at a time, mashing well between each addition.
- Once you’ve incorporated all of the juice and have a smooth mixture, strain it through cheesecloth (feel free to squeeze out every last drop you can get; no need to worry about clarity like with jelly!).
Finish the dish:
- Spoon half of the sauce into each of two bowls, and place two of the eggplant wedges in each one. Shave about four macadamia nuts over each bowl. Enjoy!