I love researching old recipes, because you never know what you’re going to find out. During my last trip home to the Southern U.S. I had a great time talking old recipes with my sister, grandmother, and great aunt- there was a lot of controversy and laughter at that table. Strange Flavor Eggplant looks tasty and how fun that you contributed to Lonny!
The way you put the “strange flavor” in small font below the eggplant really made me giggle. This could be the best recipe title ever?? Kind of like naming Iceland Iceland even though it’s totally green and beautiful.
I looked through about fifty 80’s cookbooks and couldn’t find a single “Strange Flavor Eggplant” anything. :-( The closest I came is an early 90’s Moosewood recipe for Asian Eggplant Dip which looks like the result might be something like your recipe. If you read about Barbara Tropp, she would have been the farthest from racist-y. :-)
Louise- you looked through fifty 80’s cookbooks to verify my claims?! That is some serious commitment. I assure you they exist, when I come across them again I will send citations. And I was never worried Barbara Topp was racist-y, I don’t think she named the recipe.
Jeffrey- I’ve had those chairs in my dining room for the last 3 years and I love them so much. Also, a very popular bar in Chicago uses them, and they have held up beautifully to nightly crowds of drunk people. I think you’ll be happy.
Flipping through some Chinese cookbooks, it seems like maybe “strange flavor” is a term for something that features a lot of Sichuan pepper. Maybe that’s something that got lost in translation, since Sichuan pepper is hard to get on this side of the ocean.
Tim, it wasn’t that I doubted your claims, but I have > 600 cookbooks dating way back to the present. For more than 25 years we did a monthly dinner party always around some theme and I couldn’t remember seeing this dip. After I pulled out a few books, it became my mission. :-)
Yeah, Simon above is right. The name (guai wei) refers to a bizarre combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors (i.e. all the soy, sesame, black vinegar, chili, and Sichuan peppercorns found in the original versions). The most well-known iteration of the flavor combo is “strange flavor chicken”; the eggplant dip sounds like a Western bastardization, though no less tasty I’m sure.