When I was growing up, every once in a while my mom would make this weird food. When it came out of the pan, it always looked like a big pile of steaming gray matter. It looked nasty.

Later, I found out that this was stir fried eggplant. Still later I figured out that it was actually pretty good to eat, so I asked my mom how to make it. Sure enough, when done well you can get to the same gray and goopy consistency, although these days it’s gray and purple, since the purple asian eggplant are pretty easy to find. Me, I still can’t resist calling the dish Braaaaiiinnnns. Here’s how I do it. The trick is to cook the eggplant twice to make sure it gets soft without sopping up huge amounts of oil. Eggplant is weird that way.

First, gather up the following:

1. 1/4 to 1/2 pound ground pork, depending on how you like it.

2. 4 or 5 of the purple eggplant. Cut this up into small cubes.

3. Garlic, lots of garlic.

4. Soy sauce, sugar, water, and Hoisin Sauce.

5. Cilantro, chopped up (optional).

First, take the eggplant cubes and put them in a large bowl. Add a couple teaspoons of water and some oil. Mix it up. Put the bowl in the microwave and zap it for 4 or 5 minutes. Mix it up some more, then zap it for another 4 or 5 minutes. You want to nuke the eggplant until it is really soft. It’s easier to do it this way than to do it in the pan.

When the eggplant is done, heat up a pan. Add oil and garlic and the ground pork. Brown the pork, then add the eggplant. Mix it up. Then add a bit of water and a bit (a teaspoon or two) of soy sauce. Finally, squeeze the hoisin sauce into the pan. You want about a teaspoon. This adds a bit of sweetness to the sauce. Another option for this is to use black bean sauce and sugar, or even just a bit of sugar and more soy sauce. Do what feels good.

If you didn’t get the eggplant soft enough, turn the heat way down and simmer until the eggplant is soft. Make sure it doesn’t dry out and burn.

Serve over rice. Put chopped cilantro and hot sauce on top if you want to spice it up a bit.