This Sichuan classic doesn’t actually contain fish. Instead, the origins of the dish’s name derive from the sweet, sour and spicy sauce, which is prepared using the traditional flavourings for Sichuan fish dishes. It is designed to be part of a banquet.
- 125 ml (½ cup) peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 eggplants, cut into 3cm pieces
- 4 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns (see note)
- 3 spring onions, cut into 3cm lengths
- steamed rice, to serve
- 2 tbsp toban djan (chilli bean sauce)
- 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp caster sugar
- 1½ tbsp Chinese black vinegar (chinkiang) or rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 60 ml (¼ cup) chicken stock or water
- 2 tsp cornflour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
DRINK 2011 Pooley Late Harvest Riesling, Coal River Valley ($35)
To make spicy sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Cook eggplant, in 2 batches, stirring for 5 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
Discard oil from wok, leaving enough to just coat base, and return over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and peppercorns, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Return eggplant to pan with spring onion, and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Remove from heat, pour over sauce and toss to combine. Serve with rice.
• Sichuan peppercorns are the dried red-brown berries from an ash tree and are known to have a slight mouth-numbing effect. They are available from selected delis and Asian food shops.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg70.
Photography by Derek Swalwell.