Fiery Sichuan peppercorns and milder Chinese chili peppers mingle with sizzling ginger and garlic in this recipe from the Chinese Homestyle cookbook, for a deliciously simple and irresistible vegetable-forward dish.
What you need:
For the eggplant:
2 or 3 Chinese eggplants (1 pound total), stems removed, cut into 2-inch long ¼-inch thick sticks
1 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon doubanjiang
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
For the stir-fry:
¼ cup cornstarch
⅓ cup peanut oil
2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
4 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
8 to 10 dried Chinese chili peppers
What you do:
- For the eggplant, in a large bowl, place eggplant and cover with water. Add salt and mix well. Place a pot lid on top of eggplant to keep submerged for 15 minutes. Strain and pat dry.
- For the sauce, in a medium bowl, combine vinegar, light and dark soy sauces, wine, doubanjiang, sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and ½ cup of water. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved.
- For the stir-fry, sprinkle eggplant with cornstarch and toss until eggplant is evenly coated.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add eggplant in an even layer without overlapping, cooking in batches if needed. Fry eggplant pieces until most surfaces are charred and eggplant turns soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. If skillet starts to smoke, reduce heat to medium.
- Remove pan from heat. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pan into a heatproof bowl. To pan, add Sichuan peppercorns. Cook over medium heat until dark brown. Remove with a spatula and discard. Add scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, stirring a few times to release fragrance.
- Stir sauce again to make sure cornstarch is dissolved, then pour into pan. Cook and stir until sauce thickens. Add eggplant and quickly stir to combine.
- Immediately transfer to a large serving plate and serve hot.