Sichuan Eggplant (Fish Fragrant Eggplant)
Yu Xiang Qie Zi 魚香茄子
What does an eggplant taste like? It's a hard question to answer, isn't it? And I do love my eggplant, but I find myself drawn to preparations of it that are strongly flavored, like this popular Sichuan eggplant recipe, which hits all of the classic Sichuan flavors - hot, sour, sweet and salty.
In my version of Yu Xiang Qie Zi, I cut down on eggplant frying time - and oil - by zapping them in the microwave. Some people like to salt the eggplant for a good while before cooking them -- this accomplishes the same goal by extracting water -- but I'm too impatient and last minute for that! All in all, a fairly quick, simple dish that packs a lot of flavor.
- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- 1/4 lb ground pork
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tbsp sichuan hot bean paste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- pinch of sichuan pepper, or chili powder
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp chinese black vinegar or balsalmic vinegar
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine for cooking)
- 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
- 1 stalk green onion, chopped
- Chop the eggplant into strips, roughly 2" by 1/2" thick. Now, anyone who has cooked eggplant before knows that it can take a long time for it to turn tender when frying, so I like to pop it in the microwave for a few minutes to draw out some moisture. Microwave the strips, then if there's excess water, drain and pat with paper towels.
- Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok, then saute the eggplant until it is nearly done and tender. Set aside.
- With the leftover oil, add the ground pork along with the bean paste, garlic, ginger and a pinch of chili. Mix well and use a spatula to keep the meat separate as it cooks. Cook through.
- Add the soy sauce, chicken broth, sugar, vinegar and wine, then add the eggplant strips back in. Bring to a simmer and then lower heat. Add the cornstarch and water to thicken. Cook for a few minutes, until the liquid has permeated the food and thickened. Garnish with green onions and serve alongside other dishes and rice.
Serving Size: 2-3
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Preparation Time: 30 minutes