Fish-fragrant Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Ready In: 30 mins
Serves: 2
Photo: Fish-fragrant Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

Fish-fragrant eggplant or 鱼香茄子, is a signature dish in Sichuan cuisine. Don’t get confused by the name, there is no fish in this dish, not even fish sauce. The vegetarian dish* is a combination of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy tastes together in a deliciously garlicky sauce.

* See tips below for meatier version.

Ingredients

Main Ingredients

  • 500 g Asian eggplant
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 - 1 tbsp spicy bean paste (郫县豆瓣酱/Pixian Dou Ban Jiang)
  • 10 Sichuan peppercorns

Sauce

  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp Chinese cooking sherry/wine
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp MSG (optional)

Directions

  1. Add finely chopped scallions and sauce ingredients in a medium size bowl, mix well and set aside.
  2. Cut eggplant into 3x1 cm strips, set aside. Mince the garlic and ginger.
  3. Heat oil in a wok on low heat. Add Sichuan peppercorns to wok, frying about 15 seconds to release flavours. Add ginger, garlic, and spicy bean paste to the wok. Stir fry until red oil separates from the paste (~15-20 seconds).
  4. Turn up the heat, add eggplant to the wok, frying until it becomes soft (~4-5 minutes).
  5. Add sauce mixture to the wok, mix well with eggplant, let it simmer about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Empty wok onto a serving plate, sprinkle cilantro over the dish as garnish, and serve immediately.

Tips

  • If you are unable to obtain Chinese black vinegar, you can substitute it with balsamic vinegar.
  • While this recipe is for a vegetarian version, it is quite common to have this dish with minced pork in it. To do so, simply brown about 250 g of minced pork and set aside before performing the instructions above. Then add it in with the sauce in step 5 above.
Photo Credit: Kirk K

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