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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fish Flavoured Eggplant - Sichuan Style

 Eggplant has by far my favourite vegetable at the moment.  It has found it way to the top of my hit list thanks to places like Pepper Chilli, Chilli India and Sichuan House including it in some very mouth watering dishes on their lunch menus.  I have also adapted some of the eggplant dishes I have tasted and come up with my versions of Baingan Bharta - a spicy eggplant mash, and my mother-in-laws recipe for Shutki Baigan - eggplant with dried fish.  One of the dishes I most look forward to at Sichuan House is their fish flavoured eggplant concoction.  This dish has a very spicy, yet sweet sauce that coats the eggplant that is shaped like chips.  The most unique thing about the eggplant is crunch that you get when you sink your teeth into the saucy chips. Well my version does not achieve this level of crispiness - probably because I do not have an industrial strength deep fryer the get the crunch to precision.  What is lacking in crunch is definitely made up  for in the taste as fish flavoured eggplant is sure to please.  Something noteworthy is that nothing fishy goes into this dish yet it is named so.  I found out that the named derived from the preparation of a fish dish with similar ingredients.  Lost in translation somewhere it became known as Fish Flavoured Eggplant because it's probably easier to read on a menu than "Eggplant made with ingredients from a fish dish that gives it a fish flavour".  This recipe includes carrot and zuchinni that is diced and combined with the sauce to give it more body and some crunch.  Feel free to omit these if you want to stay true to the Sichuan house version, where it is all about the eggplant.
500g Eggplant, cut into chip-like pieces (this is done quite easily with long Asian eggplants)
1 tsp x Sichuan Pepper. lightly toasted and ground, reserve ½ tsp to sprinkle at finish
1 x Egg, beaten
100g x Cornflour, reserve a tsp mixed with equal water to thicken sauce 
Oil to deep fry
1 Tbsp x Ginger crushed
2 tsp x Garlic, crushed  
1 x Carrot, finely diced (optional)
1 x Zuchinni, finely diced (optional)
For the sauce
¼ cup x Chicken stock, reserve extra stock for increasing sauce quantity if desired
2 Tbsp x Chilli Bean Paste
1 tsp x Dark Soy
2 tsp x Light Soy
2 Tbsp x Black Vinegar
2 Tbsp x Shao Xing Wine
2 Tbsp x Tomato Ketchup
1 tsp x Brown Sugar
Spring Onions to garnish
"Some recipes omit the deep frying of the eggplant and just flash fry them in a hot pan before adding to the rest of the sauce ingredients to finish the dish  I have tried this way and have not enjoyed it as the eggplant does not hold its shape and the dish can become quite mushy in texture.  My taste testers also voted in favour of the deep fried eggplant.  As bad as it sounds to deep fry, my technique has always been to get the oil to an optimum heat of 190 degrees celcius as this will ensure and even coat of crunch and not allow for too much saturation of the oil.  I usually find I am left with almost the same amount of oil as I started.  Use a deep saucepan and a thermometer - it does sound finicky but is well rewarded."
Prepare the sauce first by combining all ingredients in a bowl and keep aside.
Heat a wok until very hot then swirl in a table spoon of oil followed by the ginger and garlic
Stir for half a minute then add the diced vegetables and fry for 2 minutes 
Now add half a teaspoon of ground Sichuan pepper and the prepared sauce and stir well to combine
Add extra stock if desired and sprinkle the extra Sichuan pepper to taste, adjust seasoning 
Whisk in the cornflour slurry and bring the sauce to a boil until it thickens slightly
Remove from heat an rest while you prepare the eggplant
Combine the cornflour and ground sichuan pepper in a plastic bag 
Dip the eggplant chips in the beated egg and then place in the plastic bag and shake
Do this in batches so the eggplant is evenly coated in the cornflour mix
Heat oil in a saucepan or deep fryer, use a thermometer if possible to determine when the oil is at 190 degrees celcius
Fry the eggplant in small batches until golden, then drain well on absorbent paper
Bring the sauce to the boil again and add in the fried eggplant
Fold gently to coat the eggplant with the sauce
Add a sprinkle of Sichuan pepper powder to finish
Garnish with sliced spring onions and serve immediately on steamed rice
To keep in the Sichuan style of things I added a quick spicy dish to tonights menu courtesy of another food blog click to navigate to the blog for the recipe,

1 comment:

Carole said...

Nice recipe. You might like my take on sichuan chicken.