Prep Time: 5 Mins
I was never big on eggplant until I discovered this Sichuan eggplant dish. The sauce is outstanding and it’s an absolute rice destroyer. In Mandarin, the dish is called 鱼香茄子 (yuxiang qiezi) which translates literally into “fish fragrance eggplant”. This “fish fragrance” isn’t the actual taste or smell of fish, but a prevailing flavour of Sichuan cuisine that incorporates the balance of salty, sour, sweet, spicy, fragrant with the freshness of ginger, garlic and spring onion. This flavour profile was originally used in the cooking of fish, which is how the name came about.
I’m using OmniMeat mince this time, but I’ve also use minced TVP or omitted the mince. Honestly, I felt that the OmniMeat was a little wasted on this dish because the sauce was so flavourful that any meat replacement would’ve done a fine job. It’s totally cool to just use what you have available!
This Sichuan eggplant dish is now one of my favourite eggplant dishes, and once you get used to the deep frying part, it’s really very easy to make.
See cooking instructions below for more information on the chilli bean sauce that I use.
Slice the eggplant into fingers. Finely chop the spring onion, garlic and ginger. Reserve a small amount of spring onions for garnish later.
Heat about 800ml or four fingers depth of oil in a large and deep sauce pan. Stick a wooden chopstick into the oil and if bubbles emerge from the chopstick, the oil is hot enough. Carefully put your eggplant into the oil.
Meanwhile, mix the sauce in a small bowl. 1 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of black vinegar, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of corn starch, 3 tbsp of cool water. Make sure the corn starch is fully incorporated into the sauce.
Remove the eggplant after about 5 minutes and let the oil drain in a colander. Don't use a kitchen towel because the eggplant might mush into the towel and become one with it and you'd be eating paper.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and stir fry the minced vegan meat for about two minutes.
Move the mince to the sides and add the ginger, spring onions and garlic. Drizzle another 1 tbsp of oil over the aromatics. Stir to mix well. If you like your garlic quite raw, you can hold off and put it in later.
Add 1 tbsp of chilli bean sauce 辣豆瓣酱 and stir well so the sauce becomes fragrant but does not burn.
The chilli bean sauce on the left is the most authentic brand, Pixian from Sichuan, China. This is the one I like to use when I can get it. The one on the right is probably the easiest to find anywhere in the world, Lee Kum Kee from Hong Kong.
Add the eggplant and toss to mix. If you didn't add the garlic earlier, this is where you put it in. Pour the sauce in, mix well, and reduce.
This is the ideal consistency, a little sticky.
Sprinkle with spring onions and serve hot with rice.