A favorite Chinese restaurant remembered: Dim Sum Eggplant Stuffed with Shrimp

by Marion on July 26, 2017

Our take on a traditional dim sum favorite, eggplant stuffed with a shrimp/pork mixture, sautéed and steamed. Recipe below.

Dim Sum Eggplant Stuffed with Shrimp

For quite a few years, one of our most beloved dim sum dishes was the eggplant stuffed with shrimp prepared at Hong Minh on Cermak in Chicago’s Chinatown. It was light and luscious and suave, and we were crazy about it.

One day, when we were going around the city with out-of-town guests, we promised them a fantastic Chinese lunch at Hong Minh. Awesome hole in the wall! Classic Cantonese dishes! So delicious! So that, when we showed up in front of the restaurant, and saw that it had just burned down, I don’t know which of us was most crestfallen.

The other day I was reminiscing, yet again, about the excellence of this dish, when it came to me: hey, Einstein—Internet… recipes… What makes me even more of an Einstein is that the crop of Japanese eggplants in our garden is just starting to come in, and I’d been mumbling for days about wanting to make something new with them.  Some days I just don’t know.

There are dozens of lovely versions of this classic dim sum dish all over the place. Here is how I made it.

Dim Sum Eggplant Stuffed with Shrimp
Serves 4

5 or 6 medium Japanese eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil
sliced scallions, for garnish

For the filling:
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces ground pork (see Kitchen Notes)
1 scallion, minced
1 egg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
A grinding of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dry sherry (or Shaoxing wine)

For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch in 1/4 cup water

Equipment: food processor, big heavy nonstick skillet, saucepan, bamboo steamer or improvised steamer

Prepare the filling. Put the shrimp in a food processor and process for about 15 seconds. Add the pork and process them together, then add all the other filling ingredients and process again to a smooth paste. Take the bowl off the food processor and put it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

While you are waiting, prepare the eggplant. Cut off and discard the top, then slice across into coins about 1-1/2 inches thick. I experimented with this, cutting the pieces into various thicknesses, and that is the size I recommend.

This is the do as I say, not as I do part. Cut each coin almost all the way through, parallel to the cut ends—you are almost cutting each coin into two coins, but leave a bit of one edge, so it will hinge open. That makes it easier for you to control the stuffing and cooking. (See Kitchen Notes for further explanation.)

Next, stuff the pieces of eggplant. I put a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet and used that as a tray. Fill each eggplant piece with about a tablespoon of the shrimp mixture. Really cram it in, but be careful not to tear the hinge. Set each piece on the tray while you prepare everything.

Once everything is stuffed, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil is a nonstick skillet over pretty high heat. Carefully place the stuffed eggplant slices in the skillet uncut side down and sauté until slightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn to brown the other side.  As each piece is browned, move it to the steamer.

Once everything is in the steamer, cover tightly. Steam for about 10 minutes. Check that the eggplant is quite soft and cooked through—you may need to steam longer, depending on the orneriness of all things. The first time I made this, it took 15 minutes of steaming to get it right.

While the eggplant slices are steaming, prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil and sesame oil, then add the stock, oyster sauce and soy sauce and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the cornstarch, dissolved in a little water, and stir until thickened. Turn off the heat and hold it until the eggplant is done, then gently reheat.

Serve. Plate individual servings, spooning around the sauce and garnishing with more minced scallion. To make this a meal, serve with rice.

Kitchen Notes

Or: do as I do, not as I say. When I was slicing the eggplant, I made the mistake of cutting the hinge cut lengthwise and perpendicular to the original cut, not crosswise as is traditionally done. This was annoying in that visually it is not as appealing. However, one result was that in the sautéing, the eggplant absorbed much less oil than it would have ordinarily—if you are very fat-conscious, try this approach instead, and in this case, just brown the eggplant on the bottom, then  move it to the steamer.

Oink? The pork is optional. Some recipes use none; some use just a touch; in some, up to half the volume is pork. I liked this version very much, but straight shrimp is excellent too.

Extra stuffing? After filling all the eggplant pieces, I had quite a bit of stuffing left over. I stir-fried some green beans over high heat, with just a little oil, until they were blistered, then took them out of the pan, cooked the remaining shrimp-pork filling in the pan, stirring it and chopping it into kernels with the spatula, then returned the beans to the pan to heat everything through. That’s a super fast nice side dish to serve with a vegetarian main, like scrambled eggs, or even just on its own for lunch.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John/Kitchen Riffs July 26, 2017 at 8:53 am

That internet thing is a keeper, isn’t it? So is this recipe — love eggplant, and this is a nifty way to use it. Thanks!

Marion July 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

John, I’m one of those people who is on line probably ten hours a day, and yes, it’ll do.

Dani H July 26, 2017 at 8:10 pm

From the time my daughter was about seven until she went away to college, we would go to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dim sum on Sundays which was the only day of the week they offered it.

Unfortunately, they closed the restaurant but we had great meals there for ten years.

Thanks for the recipe, Marion. I hope you’re enjoying your garden.

Shauna July 26, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Then steaming eggplant – that’s the trick in some of the best eggplant dishes!! Wonderful! Definitely trying this one soon!

Shauna July 26, 2017 at 10:16 pm

PS is the eggplant 🍆 in the photo the right way?
And PSS this internet thing, it just might catch on!!!

Marion July 27, 2017 at 8:21 pm

Shauna, the photo is the WRONG (ie, Marion) way. But it worked anyhow – this was the “fry it only on the bottom” way.

Marion July 27, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Dani, thanks. I am loving it. It is still about 1/3 weeds and waste ground, but it is coming along. And we too have wonderful memories of comforting Chinese food.

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