Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Anna's already talked a good deal about Fugu on her blog, Dining and Opining, so I won't go into too much more detail on it. My favorite of the various dishes we ordered was eggplant in garlic sauce, also known as Sichuan eggplant. This was an amazingly dish, with a very unique flavor that Anna and Justin informed me was Sichuan peppercorn. This is the description wikipedia offers for Sichuan peppercorn: "Sichuan pepper has a unique aroma and flavour that is not hot or pungent like black or white pepper, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth (caused by its 3% of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool) that sets the stage for hot spices."
After searching through a bunch of recipes online I settled on a version from appetiteforchina.com, though I added a bit more garlic and Sichuan pepper. It wasn't as good as Fugu's version, but it was very good. The Sichuan pepper is a really unique flavor and chili bean paste gave it a good kick. I may have cut the eggplant chunks a bit too small, so the texture wasn't quite perfect. This will definitely be in my dinner rotation in the future.
1 1/2 pounds Asian eggplant
2 tablespoons chicken stock, or substitute water
2 tablespoons chili bean paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (I upped this to 5 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (I upped this to 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise, then slice each length into quarters. Cut each quarter in somewhat substantial, but still bite-sized, cubes (about 1 1/4-inch to 1 1/2-inch cubes).
5. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix well. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the eggplant to full cook and the sauce to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, plate, and sprinkle scallions on top.