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
you'll need;
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.


  1. Oh you're making me want to try eggplants now! :) This looks delicious!

  2. i love this dish spicy.. got kick!

  3. oohh hungry tummy! u are killing me with ur dishes!!! that looks absolutely amazing! ^^

  4. different recipe and looks great :)

  5. new recipe to me.Im going to try it tomorrow itself

  6. Fresh Local and Best ,
    Thank you very much!

    Thank you! you must!

    ARUNA ,
    Thank you! :)

    CUMI & CIKI ,
    Haha me to hence the extra chillies :)

    dave -nibbleanibble ,
    Very much so :)

    Oh sorry! :) You must come and visit then :)

    Thank you!

    Please do :)

  7. I love 鱼香茄子 , I can eat this with many bowls of rice

  8. We love this dish, lets make this when the eggplants are ready! cheers buddy!

  9. Hi dear...hope u r doing fine :) I missed many of your posts, with try to catch up soon.
    Fish eggplant recipe looks absolutely delicious & interesting ! . I just love the colour of the gravy. Thanks a lot for a such a great recipe.

  10. This dish looks like what my grandma used to cook :) Thanks for the tips about soaking the eggplants!
    The post about Victoria Street is great! I don't really like going there because of the drug problems there :(

  11. You are such a cameleon in the kitchen! I hope this is a Sichuan week!
    Is the restaurant you mentioned Dainty?

  12. Harriet from CarltonFebruary 22, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    I order this all the time but never looked as good as this! :)
    You surprised me again and again, thanks for the tip on soaking the eggplants!

  13. Pearlyn,
    Haha I'll make sure I cook a lot of rice when I have u over!

    Hey buddy,
    Lets do that! :)

    Glad to see your return :) Thank you :)

    I bet her version is really delicious!
    Me too but we just need to ignore them!

    hardly! It is indeed!

    Oh thank you! That is a very good family tip so use it all the time ;)

  14. What a beautiful dish! I hate to fry eggplants now with the helpful tip I'll be doing it including this stunning recipe!

  15. It is a shame they choose to move south :(
    I think you eggplant dish is better then Dainty which is coated in flour!

  16. That's such a beautiful dish of eggplant. I can cook this and enjoy it all alone cos my family doesn't really like eggplant :P

  17. ahh eggplant. This looks soooo good. I had some grilled eggplant today and am actually having some more for dinner. LOve the crisp skin with the molten lava like centre with a spoonful for vinegar hehe

  18. I really love this delicious dish to go with extra rice :)

  19. Good to see some Sichuan recipes ! Now you've done yu xiang qiezi, when are you going to get round to dan dan noodles and ants climbing up a tree ? BTW - what's your fave Sichuan place in Melbourne called ?

  20. 太棒了!來多一碗飯!:)

  21. Reshmi ,
    Not overly!

    Thank you very much!

    Yasmin ,
    Thank you! Haha I know :(

    That is great! More for you then :)

    Molten lava is a great way to describe it haha!

    I cooked a lot of rice for this :)

    Mr Noodles,
    Haha there are a few other dishes coming up so you'll have to wait for that :) It is called Dainty Sichuan :)

    大肥 ,

  22. How do you make foods that I think I don't like look so delicious?!!

  23. quelle jolie association moi qui aime beaucoup les aubergines je suis servie
    bonne journée

  24. I never fry eggplant as I hate how much oil it soaks up (and I quite like dry fried or baked eggplant) so I'm glad to read your soaking tip! Will have to give it a try :)

  25. Wow you have gone Sichuan! Awsome photos and thanks for the soaking tip!!

  26. Hey,
    First time here. Beautiful and tempting dish. Great presentation. Following you.

    Cool Lassie

  27. Suresh, this eggplant dish looks really smoky, spicy and delicious.

    I am going to remember about soaking the eggplants in water before frying them in oil. That's really good afvice.

  28. J'aime beaucoup les aubergines et ta recette leur donne beaucoup de goût.
    Je note ta version qui me plait beaucoup.
    See soon.

  29. I love this dish! So good with rice!

  30. This is a good dish, I like eggplants very much!

  31. Are you doing a Sichuan week darling? If so I'll like to request for my favourite dish! Thanks for the soaking tip, we are going to save so much oil :)
    Sophia xxx

  32. You are a great cook!
    Those are to die for!
    Loving your meals/blog!
    Betty xx

  33. Eternally Distracted ,
    Haha you tell me lol

    Fimère ,

    Haha you are welcome!

    Yeah for a change! you are welcome!

    Cool Lassi(e) ,
    Oh thank you very much!

    Velva ,
    Thank you very much! :)
    It is such an easy step to save lots of oil hehe

    Saveurs et Gourmandises,

    pigpigscorner ,
    Absolutely :)

    Thank you!

    Sophia darling,
    Not really a Sichuan week, what is that dish going to be? :) xxx

    Thank you very much :) xxx

  34. I love, love, love eggplants. Definitely could eat a lot of this with extra rice;)

  35. Another beautiful dish, I must get that cookbook too!

  36. shaz,
    Haha absolutely!!

    Thank you! You'll get so much out of it!

  37. Such a flavorful Eggplant dish,love it :D

  38. I love this! I always order it when I head to a sichuan restaurant. YUmmmO!

  39. mmmm..looks bomb. i'll have to try the soaking technique next time.

  40. If you soak the eggplant in salted water for about an hour or so, it holds up wonderfully and absorbs the flavors of the sauce without turning into mush.

  41. I made this dish too. But I drop deep frying step in order to avoid too much oil used.


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