In this second post for #zestforzucchini, I’ll share one of the easiest zucchini recipes I’ve done – Asian Pan Fried Zucchini!
So I’ve always been jealous of people who can eat eggplants. For some reason, I’m allergic to eggplants since I was a kid. I’ve never heard of anyone who has the same allergy, but it’s a real bummer when there are tons of recipes that I’ve been dying to try out. But since the ‘dying’ part has the potential to be quite literal in my case, I’ve backed off regrettably.
The good news is that I’m not allergic to zucchinis! It’s probably the closest that I can substitute for eggplants, but hey, it totally works. This Asian Pan Fried Zucchini recipe that I’m sharing is a product of those late night trawls of the internet, when I was looking at pictures of pritong talong (pan fried eggplants) and tortang talong (eggplant omelette).
I first tried to make tortang zucchini, but while the smoky taste from grilling was perfect, the time it took to properly scorch the skin for mashing was too much. Not to mention that the texture is different from eggplants. Instead of keeping its shape when you mash it, zucchinis tend to separate. So I shelved that idea for now.
My initial idea was to do straight adaptation of pritong talong. Cut the zucchini into bite-size chunks, fry them, and serve with a soy sauce and vinegar. Nothing wrong, it turned out tasty enough, but maybe, it was a bit too blah? That’s when I hit on the idea of adding the sauce during cooking instead.
Small to medium-sized zucchinis are tastier! If your zucchini tastes unusually bitter, you’d probably be better off tossing it out. Cucurbitacins is responsible for this bitterness in zucchinis and squashes, and can cause an upset stomach.
Asian Pan Fried Zucchini Recipe Breakdown
The first part of the recipe is cutting up the zucchinis into bite-sized pieces. I chose to go with larger pieces because the larger size holds the shape well after frying. I had 2 zucchinis cleaned and scrubbed thoroughly. Once I’ve done that, I cut them into pieces and sprinkled salt over them. As I mentioned in this recipe, zucchini contains a lot of water, so I let it stand for 10 minutes to drain it of excess water.
The sauce itself is a piece of cake. It’s made of ingredients that you’d normally find in any Asian kitchen, so I had them on hand. I made a slurry with cornstarch and water and then added soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and sesame oil. If you like a little spice in your food, you can add some chopped chili or gochujang (red chili paste). You can even slice some bell peppers to stir fry.
And since I was primping the base recipe, I decided to add a few more bells and whistles. I pan roasted some chopped cashew nuts to add to the sauce. I reserved a handful to sprinkle over the pan fried zucchini. This is entirely optional but I like how the crunchiness of the nuts contrast the softness of the zucchini.
After draining water from the zucchini, pat the chunks with paper before frying until each side is brown. Transfer to a bowl with a paper towel to catch the oil. Meanwhile, in the same frying pan, add the garlic and then the sauce. The sauce will thicken fast so quickly add the zucchinis back to the pan. Mix them well until the each chunk is coated. Turn off the heat and add the cashew nuts.
Tada! Now you have a fresh plate of Asian Pan Fried Zucchini for your meal! It goes well with rice and I usually eat it for lunch.
P.S. Don’t you think that it kinda looks like unagi?