Serves 4 as part of multi-course meal
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
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
- 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).
- Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the chicken stock, chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, and sugar. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl the pan to coat the base and sides. Add the eggplants and stir-fry until outsides become golden brown and insides begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorn and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 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.