Fragrant Sichuan Eggplant
Yu Xiang Qiezi
Editor's Note: This traditional recipe for Fragrant Sichuan Eggplant features ground pork, but you can easily make this recipe vegetarian or vegan by substituting mushrooms for the pork. Stir-fried eggplant is combined with garlic, ginger, pork, and chili paste. The chili paste gives the eggplant its signature spice and heat. The stir-fried ingredients are also dressed with a simple and flavorful sauce made from sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar.
The secret to achieving perfectly crisp, not soggy, eggplant is to salt the eggplant and draw its moisture prior to stir-frying. This allows the eggplant to achieve a lovely golden brown color when cooked.
This dish provides a wonderful aromatic blend of flavors. The traditional recipe uses ground pork, but you may substitute diced shiitake mushrooms for a vegetarian version.
Preparation Time25 min
Cooking Time10 min
- 10 ounces (300 g) eggplant, cut into strips
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1/2 cup (60 g) lean ground pork or diced shiitake mushroom caps
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan chili paste
- 1 teaspoon salted soybeans, mashed Spring onions, sliced, to garnish
- Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), minced, to garnish
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine or sake
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons water
To make the Sauce, combine the ingredients, then set aside.
Sprinkle the eggplant with the salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain away any liquid, then rub off any remaining salt from the eggplant. Squeeze the eggplant to extract any additional liquid.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until the oil is very hot, then stir-fry the eggplant for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the eggplant from the wok and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil, and stir-fry the garlic and ginger over high heat for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the pork and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the chili paste and salted soybeans and continue to stir-fry.
Stir in the Sauce, then add the eggplant and stir-fry until everything is evenly coated with the Sauce. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through. Garnish with the spring onion and fresh coriander leaves.
Once the oil in the wok is hot, drop in a piece of eggplant. If it sizzles and moves around, the oil is hot enough to start cooking. If not, wait a few minutes—the oil must be very hot or the eggplant will turn out greasy.
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Copyright 2017 Kenneth Law, Lee Cheng Meng, Max Zhang