Chinese eggplant recipe--Szechuan fish sauce eggplants (Yu Xiang Eggplant) is often listed as Chinese eggplant in hot garlic sauce.
One of the representatives of Sichuan cuisine is Sichuan eggplant, or Yu Xiang Qie Zi(鱼香茄子in Chinese). “鱼香” actually means Fish-Fragrant, is a kind of flavor which is quite famous in Sichuan dishes. Besides Sichuan eggplant, there is the famous Yu Xiang Rou Si(鱼香肉丝 or fish-fragrant shredded pork). Some menu may refer this dish to Eggplants in Chinese hot garlic sauce.
If you read the ingredient list, you will find nothing very special expect the pickled chili peppers. We use broad bean paste, sugar, starch, vinegar, minced pork, garlic, ginger and scallion too. Sound quite similar to another famous dish Mapo tofu right? But this version creates a totally different flavor with different ratios of the seasonings.
This unique fish fragrant sauce is made with pickled red pepper, garlic, ginger, scallions, salt, soy sauce and vinegar. It is firstly used to cook fishes. So this dish has nothing to do with fish meat. The best pepper used should be Sichuan pickled red pepper. I have written a recipe about how to make it at home, if you are interested about this, please check pickled vegetables. Or if the pickled red pepper is really hard to find, you can replace it with Thai red pepper. Although Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used in many Sichuan dishes, we do not need it for the fish fragrant series. I see many versions call for Sichuan peppercorn in this recipe. However, you may develop your own recipe and just enjoy the process of cooking.
The flavors of Yu Xiang sauce might be slightly different in areas in Sichuan. In some places, only pickled peppers are used while in other places doubanjiang is also used for a stronger flavor and color. Comparing with other chili sauce, doubanjiang has a strong capacity of adding red color to the dish. You can make a quick pickled pepper via this instruction.
In restaurants, eggplants are usually deep-fried firstly before stir fry with seasonings. However homemade version usually use pan-frying. In order to reduce the oil absorbed during the pan-frying process and fasten the process, we should soak the eggplant strips in salty water for around 15 minutes and then coat with starch. So the eggplant can absorb the flavors better.
Cut eggplant into strips and then soak in salty water for 10 minutes. Remember to add a weight. Then drain and spread ½ cup of cornstarch by batches. Mix well, make sure all of the eggplant strips are well coated.
Add oil in pan or wok and fry eggplants until soft. Transfer out.
Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in wok, and fry mince pork until crisp and browned. Add doubanjiang and chopped pepper to continue cooking for 1 minute for red oil. Add garlic, chopped peppers, green onion white part and ginger to stir-fry for the aroma.
After adding the sauce, add eggplants and then mix well quickly.
Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Sichuan Eggplant)
- 2 long eggplants , around 400g
- ¼ cup mince pork
- 1 tbsp. chopped pickled peppers
- ½ tbsp. broad bean paste , Doubanjiang
- 2 garlic cloves , chopped
- 1 tbsp. chopped ginger
- 2 green onions , white part and green part separately chopped
- 2 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
- 1 tsp. salt for soaking
- starch for coating
Stir fry sauce
- 2 tsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. black vinegar
- 5 tbsp. water
- 1 tbsp. starch ,
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Roll cut washed eggplants into long strips (try to keep some skin on each one). Then soak the eggplant strips in salty water for around 15 minutes. Move out and drain. Coat with starch (optional but I recommend using since this helps the sauce attaching on the eggplants)
- Prepare a bowl; mix all the ingredients for stir fry sauce. Then set aside.
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in wok or a pan and fry the eggplants until slightly browned by batches.
- Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in wok, and fry mince pork until crisp and browned. Add doubanjiang and chopped pepper to continue cooking for 1 minute for red oil. Add garlic, chopped peppers, green onion white part and ginger to stir-fry for the aroma.
- Stir in the sauce. Cook for a while until the sauce is thickened. Mix well and make sure the eggplants are well coated.
- Move from wok, sprinkle chopped green onion! I highly recommend serving this with steamed rice. The magic sauce can turn plain steamed rice into something extremely delicious.
The sauce is extremely delicious with steamed rice or noodles.