Szechuan Eggplant - Vegan Recipe
1 1/2 lbs Japanese Eggplant (about 4 x 10 inch eggplants)
2 teaspoons salt
bowl of water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2–4 tablespoons peanut oil ( or wok oil)
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 teaspoons ginger, finely minced
5–10 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns ( or sub regular peppercorns)
1/4 cup of Tamari soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic chili paste ( or sub 1 teaspoon chili flakes)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (or mirin)
3 tablespoons brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or alternative
1/2 teaspoon five spice (Star anise, fennel, szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves)
Garnish with scallions and roasted peanuts or this Peanut Chilli crunch
1. Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch thick half-moons or into bite-sized pieces ( see photos). Place in a big bowl covered with water and stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Cover with a plate and let stand 20-30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, chop the garlic and ginger and make the Szechuan Sauce.
3. To make the Szechuan Sauce: Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Crush. Place these along with the remaining ingredients ( soy, chili paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sugar, and five spice) in a small bowl and whisk. Set by the stove.
4. Drain and rinse the eggplant and pat dry with a towel. Toss with the corn starch.
5. Working in 2 batches, heat 1 -2 tablespoons oil in an extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add half the eggplant spreading them out. You want to get both sides nice and golden, and the insides cooked through -so take your time here and dont rush this step. Let one side brown then turn them over using tongs. This will take about 10 minutes for each batch. ( If in a hurry sometimes I’ll use 2 pans.) Set the eggplant aside.
6. Add 1 more tablespoon oil to the skillet, and over medium heat, add the garlic and ginger, stirring for 2 minutes. Turn the fan on, add the dried chilis and stir one minute. Pour the Szechuan sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer for 20 seconds. Add the eggplant back into the skillet, tossing gently for about 1 minute. If it seems dry add a tablespoon of water to loosen.
7. Place in a serving dish and top with scallions and optional peanuts.
8. Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, black rice or rice noodles.
• Be patient browning each side of the eggplant. This will take a little time but reward you greatly.
• I’ve found that the flat surface of a skillet, verses using a wok is much easier to use to get those sides golden.
Feel free to sub cashews for the peanuts, of leave off completely
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