Yu Xiang Qiezi or fish fragrant eggplant is perhaps my favorite Sichuan recipe for preparing eggplant and epitomizes what I find most intrguing about Sichuan cusine. Heat from the chilis and ginger is balanced by the tartness of vinegar and a touch of sugar and garlic. Although this dish contains no fish, it is prepared in a manner that is supposed to be similar to preparations for fish. This same preparation method appears in other Sichuan dishes such as yu xiang zhou rou si (fish fragrant pork shreds), but I think eggplant is especially well suited.
Sichuan Fish-Fragrant Eggplant
Serves 4 as part of multi-course meal
1 1/2 pounds Asian eggplant
2 tablespoons water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons chili bean paste (look for broadbean paste)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 bunch green onions sliced
- Slice eggplant into bite size pieces (about 1 1/4-inch to 1 1/2-inch cubes).
- Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the water, chili bean paste, soy sauce, black vinegar, rice wine, and sugar. Set aside.
- Heat oil in wok or fry pan and swirl to coat. Once the oil is hot or starts to smoke, add the eggplant and stir-fry until the skin begins to blister and the outsides become golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorn and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix well. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the eggplant to fully cook.
- Add corn starch slurry and continu to stir over medium high heat until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat, plate, and garnish with green onions.