Monday, February 22, 2010
Yu Xiang Qie Zi 魚香茄子 Fish Fragrant Eggplants
I have been craving for Sichuanese food ever since I read a review about my favourite Sichuan restaurant 2 weeks ago. With the very remote chance of ever visiting the restaurant anytime soon (since it has moved to the other side of the Yarra), I decided I'll need to take matters into my own hands. A cuisine that was quite foreign to me until I bought Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery, I can now claim to be quite an expert in Sichuan cooking having read the book from cover to cover countless times and consumed enough chillies and sichuan pepper in the past 8 years.
This is definitely a crowd pleaser; smokey, silky eggplant pieces swimming in a hot, sour and slightly sweet sauce and it is vegetarian.There is no fish in the dish despite it's name suggests otherwise, but simply being cooked in a sauce often associated with fish. A great family tip I like to share is - soak the eggplant pieces in water before frying, you will be amazed by how little oil is being absorbed by the eggplants.
Recipe adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuan Cookery
serves 4 to 6 as part of a Chinese meal
1 kg of oriental eggplants
4 tbs of hot bean paste
3cm knob of ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 bird chillies, roughly chopped (optional)
2/3 cup of chicken stock
1 tbs of light soy
1 to 2 tbs of chinkiang black vinegar
1.5 tbs of sugar
corn flour solution
2 spring onions, chopped
salt to taste
oil for deep frying
Cut eggplants lengthwise then across, slice each quarter into 2 or 3 pieces. Soak eggplants in water for 15 minutes and drain well.
Fry eggplants in batches til lightly golden, drain well. You'll be amazed by how little oil is absorbed by the eggplants if they are soaked in water first.
Fry hot bean paste with a little oil for 10 to 15 seconds then add in the chopped aromatics.
Add stock, sugar and soy and bring it to a simmer.
Add eggplants and cook for a few minutes, thicken the sauce with a little corn flour solution then add in the spring onions. Drizzle some vinegar over and check for seasonings.
Serve hot as part of a Sichuanese/Chinese meal with plenty of steamed rice.