Dim Sum: Yeung Qi Dze (Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant)

Jade Dragon – Seattle, WA – 11/21/2009

Name: Yeung Qi Dze
Primary Ingredient(s): Shrimp Paste (or Fish Paste), Eggplant
Type of Dish: Stuffed Vegetable
Method of Preparation: Pan Fried

Being a novice to dim sum allows me a certain latitude in understanding the hows and whys of certain dishes. Claiming ignorance is part and parcel of the purpose of these entries.

Shrimp stuffed eggplant provides an excellent example of this. For one, there is the name “Yeung Qi Dze”, which I have no idea is correct for this dish or not. The only evidence I have for this comes from the MenuPages for Ton Kiang restaurant in San Francisco*. Other dim sum menus I have perused simply call this dish “Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant”.

Additionally, many of the cookbooks and guides I have seem to believe that shrimp stuffed eggplant is actually a derivative of stuffed green peppers, and that as long as either the eggplant or peppers are stuffed with either fish or shrimp, either or or paste, and you’ll be fine. Of course changing ingredients changes its name, and then I’m screwed out of any sort of frame of reference.

Then I realize that Shrimp stuffed eggplant is really self-evident, and I really shouldn’t overthink this too much. The name above may not be correct, but you’ll know it when you see it.

This dish is also one of the lighter dishes available from a dim sum menu, even if it is pan fried in loads of oil. You’ll note two different locations where I’ve eaten this dish. One was simply drenched in oil, the other was a fair bit more delicate in nature. Your own experiences will vary from restaurant to restaurant.

When prepared well, you get a flavorful dish covered with just enough sauce (soy or black bean) to keep you interested. The eggplant provides that slight woodsy taste that it is known for, while the shrimp provides the majority of the mouthfeel and texture of the dish, as well as providing its own well known flavor.

If we’re going to consider baus and spring rolls entry level dishes into the dim sum world, shrimp stuffed eggplant straddles the line between entry level and whatever the second level may be (let’s call it “novice”). Shrimp paste, which is used from time to time (again, depending upon the restaurant), is out of the Western mainstream enough to make its use notable, and is the only thing that takes this dish out of the entry level category.

At any rate, if you’re a fan of shrimp, eggplant, or both, this is well worth your time.

*Note: Part of the problem in trying to anglicize Chinese words is that you’ll invariably get different Western spellings for the same dish, but the spellings will end up sounding the same.

Jade Dragon – Seattle, WA – 11/21/2009

Purple Dot Cafe – Seattle, WA – 11/14/2009

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