Let your imagination soar with this unique visual treat.
Never give up and good luck will find you. ~ Falkor, ‘The Neverending Story’
My love for fantasy began early. As a child, one of my favourite movies was ‘The Neverending Story’. It was a fantasy within a fantasy. My favourite character was Falkor, the luckdragon. He was part dragon, part oversized Golden Retriever, and completely full of heart. It’s little surprise that when I try to get creative (rare), I gravitate toward the magical (often).
“Dragon’s Eye” came about by accident one evening. Lying in the chiller was one medium-sized eggplant left over from an earlier recipe and a beautiful head of Napa cabbage that was originally headed into a chicken soup that didn’t materialise. (Such incidences happen more often than I like to admit.) Having only had Braised Eggplant a few days ago, I landed on the idea to fry the eggplant pieces. Ooo-la-la! The Napa cabbage was quickly voted for its colour and sweetness. The touche finale? Dried shrimp for extra vibrancy and complexity. When I looked at the end result, a dragon’s eye came to mind right away; hence the name. Ok, you got to look at it from slightly afar. Having aged eyes like mine helps with the imagination.
This recipe doesn’t take long to make. The fried eggplant can be had on its own and I’m sure it will be just as appealing. It’s fried! Napa cabbage and dried shrimp is popular as a standalone side dish too. So tuck in, and enjoy over a viewing of ‘The Neverending Story’.
- 1 medium Chinese eggplant, cut into 2" x ½" pieces
- 3 Tbsp flour
- Black pepper
- Handful of dried shrimp ('hay bee'/'xia mi' 虾米), soaked and squeezed as dry as possible
- 5 or 6 leaves of Napa cabbage, roughly chopped
- ½" ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp Chinese cooking wine
- Coat eggplant in the mixture of flour, black pepper and a pinch of salt.
- Heat 4 Tbsp of oil. When oil is sizzling, place eggplant into the pan. Try to spread it out so that it forms a flat layer in the pan. Do not touch it for about 20 seconds to allow eggplant to nicely brown on one side. Carefully turn each piece of eggplant and repeat. Using tongs makes this step easier. Repeat till all the eggplant is lightly crisped on the outside. The flesh will remain soft. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Remove any extra oil, leaving 1 Tbsp in the pan. Add dried shrimp. The drier the shrimp, the less oil splatter there will be. Stir-fry till shrimp has softened.
- Add ginger and garlic and fry for 20 seconds to release the aromas.
- Add cabbage stems first, followed by leaves when stems are partly cooked. Fry quickly.
- Add soy sauce and cooking wine. Lower heat and simmer for about a minute.
- For this recipe's namesake, serve in a plate with cabbage in the middle, using some shrimp for the centre. Arrange eggplant around the cabbage.
The fried eggplant can be had on its own will be just as appealing.
Napa cabbage and dried shrimp is popular as a standalone side dish too.