¼ cup vegetable oil
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 tsp. cornstarch
½ cup chicken broth
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2 tsp. Szechwan chile paste, or to taste
1 tsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 scallions, thin sliced
½ tsp. sesame oil, or to taste
White and whole wheat pita bread, cut into wedges
• In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Stir-fry the eggplant over moderately high heat for 3 to 5 minutes in the wok, or until it is tender and browned. Transfer the eggplant with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
• In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the broth.
• Put the garlic, ginger, chile paste, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sherry in the wok. Stir-fry the mixture for 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, bell pepper and scallions as well as the eggplant and the cornstarch mixture. Stir-fry for 1 minute, or until the eggplant has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove the wok from the heat, add the sesame oil, and toss the mixture well.
• Transfer the dip to a bowl and serve with warm pita wedges.