Who doesn't love a good Chinese takeout meal? The savory, umami flavors and bit of heat have us crawling back every time. But what if I told you that you could easily re-create those flavors at home for a fraction of the calories and fat? Enter Kung Pao Eggplant. Substituting eggplant for chicken, you add another serving of vegetables to the plate, not to mention additional nutrients like fiber. This version is vegetarian (and vegan!) friendly and can be made gluten-free by using tamari in place of soy sauce and arrowroot flour instead of cornstarch.
For the marinade: Put the eggplant in a large mixing bowl, then add the cornstarch, mirin and soy sauce and toss together until fully coated. Set aside.
For the sauce: Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, ginger and garlic to a small mixing bowl, then whisk to combine.
For the stir-fry: In a wok or large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil over high heat. Add the eggplant with its marinade and cook until lightly golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes, deglazing the pan if bits of food get stuck on by adding 1/4 cup water, wine or broth and stirring the bits up with a wooden spoon. Transfer the cooked eggplant back to the large mixing bowl and set aside.
Turn heat down to medium-high. Add the remaining tablespoon coconut oil to the pan; add the dried chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the cooked eggplant, peanuts, scallions and sauce and toss to coat. Cook until the sauce is thickened, 1 minute.
Serve immediately with brown rice and scallions, for garnish.