Tag Archives: Eggplant

Sweet Potato Vines

Enough sweet potato vines to fill the sink.
Enough sweet potato vines to fill the sink.

I had no idea one could eat sweet potato vines until earlier this year. Like every good European gardener I knew that every part of the regular potato above the ground was poisonous and just assumed the same was true of the sweet potatoes. How wrong I was!

From back to front; pock Marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd, Steamed Eggplant with Chile Sauce, and stir Fried Sweet Potato Vines.
From back to front; pock Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd, Steamed Eggplant with Chile Sauce, and stir Fried Sweet Potato Vines.

When we got sweet potato vines in the pick box this week I immediately thought about a Chinese stir fry but I also wondered whether they were eaten in Africa as well.

We tried Frog Song’s vines in a stir fry from Katie Cannon. We had them with brown rice and Fuchsia Dunlop’s Pock Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd (Ma Po Dou Fu, sounds better in Chinese doesn’t it, but delicious in any language) and her Steamed Eggplant with Chile Sauce that I mentioned in an earlier post. But I have to say, the addition of the fish sauce did not make this a Bethany favorite. Just a bit too pungent. Next time I will stir fry them in a hot and garlicky sauce.

Getting the vines from Frog Song made me look at the vines in my own garden, which at this time of year are rapidly taking over. So I send Bethany out to bring back a laundry basket full of vine clippings (I kid you not) and began preparing a version of this recipe. I couldn’t get goat, so I used lamb, find a nice fatty cut. I also didn’t pound the leaves, just cut them and I didn’t cook the leaves for so long. No need to boil them to death, they will meld in the stew nicely enough. Finally, I just used a few fried anchovies instead of making a fish stock. Also, note in the recipe at Shepherd’s Song the cooked leaves are “set aside” and, as far as I can tell, never make it back into the stew!

Sweet Potato Vine Stew

  • 2lbs lamb shoulder chops, or neck.
  • 2 tbsps of canola oil.
  • 1 half large onion, diced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 Chinese eggplant, cubed.
  • 4 Spring onions, chopped.
  • 2 dried chilies, I used arbol.
  • 3 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, finely chopped.
  • A large amount of sweet potato leaves, chopped.
  • 1 half cup of peanut butter (I used Smucker’s Natural Chunky. Use one with nothing but peanuts.)
  • Water.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
Spicy Sweet Potato Vine Stew with Lamb
Spicy Sweet Potato Vine Stew with Lamb

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. In the meantime, brown the lamb chops in the oil until nicely browned on both sides. Remove from the skillet and place in the bottom of a casserole. Add the diced onion, the anchovies, garlic, and eggplant to the remaining oil and brown. Grind one chili and add it to the onions. Add the spring onions. Place the chopped sweet potato leaves in the boiling water and cook until bright green. Remove from the water and place in the casserole on top of the meat. Then place the browned onion mixture on top of that. Season the whole thing generously with salt and pepper. Add the second chili, whole. Add enough of the water from the vines to almost, but not quite cover the meat and vegetables. Mix the peanut butter with another half a cup of the cooking water and add that to the casserole. Cover and bake in the oven for approximately one hour. Remove the casserole from the oven. Fish around in the stew to remove the chops. The meat should easily fall away from the the bone and remaining fat. Return the meat to the stew, stir and adjust the seasoning.

Serve over brown rice. We drank a Californian Pinot Noir with it, but you could choose a more full bodied red.

Bethany loved this one!

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Week 6 Pick Box

Another interesting box from Frog Song this week. A real African theme, which befits Florida in the summer.

Pick box Week 6

  • Seminole Pumpkin, a few things come to mind; wonderful ravioli stuffed with pumpkin, or a classic pumpkin pie, or perhaps a cold pumpkin soup.
  • Sweet potato vines, we have lots of these in the garden. Perhaps a stir fry, but I am also going to see if I can find some African recipes for these.
  • Okra, another African vegetable, since we also got eggs this time, I think another okra frittata is on the cards.
  • Chinese eggplant, time for another steamed eggplant with chili sauce, perhaps paired with the sweet potato vine stir fry?
  • Cucumbers, lovely in a simple salad with lemon and olive oil at this time of year.
  • Eggs! Including Bethany’s favorite a blue Ameraucana egg.
  • Roselle, hibiscus sabdariffa is another African native and great for hibiscus tea, but also makes a nice jam, cordial, or the Jamaican Christmas drink, sorrel.

Stay tuned for recipes.

Week three pick box

Watermelon, Chinese eggplant, okra, peppers, red onions, Malabar spinach, and corn.
Watermelon, Chinese eggplant, okra, peppers, red onions, Malabar spinach, and corn.

Here is what we got in the box this week. John kindly swapped out the yard long beans for some malabar spinach, since we have so many of the beans from our own garden. By the way, here is the recipe I use for pickled yard long beans. You curl them into the jars whole so they look great in the jar and they come out like a Slinky.

Steamed Eggplants with Chile Sauce (Hong You Qie Zi.)

This recipe was a revelation to me when I found it in Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Land of Plenty. Until then I had always fried or roasted eggplant. This recipe steams the sliced Chinese eggplants, which transforms them into creamy deliciousness, barely held together by their skin. You then dip them in the intense, flavorful chili sauce. Spectacular and really easy.

Here is my variation on her recipe.

  • Four Chinese eggplant sliced diagonally into one inch pieces.
  • One quarter cup of soy sauce.
  • One quarter cup of black Chinese vinegar
  • Two dried chiles, flaked.
  • One teaspoon of sesame oil.
Front to back: steamed eggplant, rice, and beans with fried tofu.
Front to back: steamed eggplant, rice, and beans with fried tofu.

Place the sliced eggplant in a steamer and steam for 15 minutes until thoroughly soft. Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients in a small bowl. Place the steamed eggplant on a spacious serving dish and place the bowl of chile sauce in the middle. Eat with chopsticks, dipping each piece of eggplant into the sauce. I served this with yard-long beans with fried tofu and brown rice for an accidentally vegan meal.

By the way, best place in town I have found for Asian ingredients and cooking equipment is the Phuoc Loc Pho Market on Colonial.