Yu Xiang Qie Zi

Yu Xiang Qie Zi

Curiously named ‘fish-fragrant’ eggplant, this stir-fried eggplant
in chilli bean sauce mixed with Chinese black vinegar displays the
hallmarks of classic Sichuanese cuisine – hot, sour, sweet and salty.

Origins
Sichuan food may have started as a favourite cuisine of China’s royal dynasties who settled in Sichuan province, but it’s now popular local fare, with plenty of well-known favourites, such as twice-cooked pork, spicy tofu with minced pork, and dry-fried green beans. The name yu xiang qie zi, which translates to ‘fish-fragrant’ eggplant, is likely to have originated from the Sichuanese’s love of cooking fish and the use of classic Sichuanese ingredients.

SERVES 6

You’ll need
2 tbs vegetable oil
4 medium-sized eggplants,
chopped into bite-sized
cubes
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and
crushed
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Sichuan pepper, ground
Handful of dried whole chillies
Chopped spring onions
(scallions) to garnish
Steamed rice to serve

Sauce
1 tbs chilli bean paste
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs Chinese black vinegar
(balsamic vinegar can be
used as a substitute)
1 tbs rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch

Cooking Method
1 Prepare the sauce by combining the chilli bean paste, soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine or sherry, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Set aside.
2 Heat the oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry for a few minutes then add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook until the eggplant is golden brown and soft.
3 Add the garlic, ginger, pepper and chillies and cook for 2–3 minutes until fragrant.
4 Stir in the sauce to coat the eggplant and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken.
5 Garnish with the spring onions and serve immediately with just steamed rice.

Tasting notes
There’s not much to fish-fragrant eggplant, other than cubes of eggplant quickly wok-fried in a thick sauce of fermented soybeans in chilli sauce, black vinegar, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and lots of dried chillies – yet it packs an unbelievably invigorating and dynamic punch. Perfect for soaking up strong flavours, the humble eggplant is tossed until soft and golden and then doused in a fiery and aromatic blend of traditional Sichuanese spices. The result is a balanced carnival of hot, sour, sweet and salty. The meatiness of the eggplant means it can stand on its own or as part of a multi-course banquet, eaten with rice and drowned with cold beer to offset the fiery nature of the dish.

Post a Comment

0 Comments