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Yu Xiang Eggplant, ground pork, cloud ear mushrooms, and aromatics stir-fry in a white round serving dish. Black chopsticks to the right side of the dish and two steamed white rice bowls above the serving dish.

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Fish-Fragrant Eggplant)

This Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Fish-Fragrant Eggplant when literally translated) is a Sichuan style chili garlic eggplant dish. Eggplant strips are pan-fried until tender, then stir-fried with aromatics, ground pork, and tender cloud ear mushrooms in a mouthwatering spicy, sweet, and sour sauce! It’s easy to make on any given weeknight, exploding with flavor, and incredibly delicious with a bowl of steamed rice!

Scale

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

For the Yu Xiang Eggplant:

For Serving: 

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Mince the garlic and ginger and chop the fresh red chilies and spring onion. Separate the whites and green parts of the spring onion as they will be added to the wok at different times. Slice the eggplant into 3-inch strips. Add them to a bowl of water and soak for 15-20 minutes. Then drain into colander or a fine mesh strainer and set aside. (Note: Soaking the eggplant strips in water makes them less prone to absorbing oil like sponges. It enables us to get away with pan-frying instead of deep frying them first.)
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl or measuring cup (the latter will make it easier to pour into the wok). Mix with a spoon to thoroughly combine, then set aside.
  3. Boil the mushrooms: Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water for 20 minutes to rehydrate. Then drain and rinse thoroughly. Cut the wood ears into smaller pieces if they are on the larger side. Then heat water over high heat in a small pot until boiling. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and boil for 3-5 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse the mushrooms thoroughly again (the water from the pot will be dirty). Set aside.
  4. Make the corn starch slurry: Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl or measuring cup (for easier pouring). Mix until combined and a slurry has formed, then set aside.
  5. Cook the rice: Cook the rice according to package instructions and set aside. (If using a rice cooker, you can leave it to cook while you prepare the eggplant stir-fry.)

For the Yu Xiang Eggplant:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, turn the heat down to medium-high and add the eggplant strips. Cook for 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally, until slightly browned and tender. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Return the wok back to the stovetop.
  2. Heat the remainder peanut oil, sesame oil, and chili oil (if using). Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, and spring onion whites. Stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Then add the red chilies and stir-fry for another minute to combine.
  3. Next, add the ground pork and the Dou Ban Jiang on top. Cook and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, breaking the lumps as you go, until the pork is no longer pink and everything is combined.
  4. Add the dried red chilies and the mushrooms. Toss briefly to combine, then add the eggplant strips and pour the sauce you made earlier over everything. Season with sugar and toss to combine.
  5. Then give the corn starch slurry a quick stir with a spoon (the corn starch will have settled at the bottom) and pour it into the wok. Stir-fry for a minute or two, or until the sauce has thickened.
  6. Add the spring onion greens and stir-fry briefly for 10 seconds to combine, then switch off the heat.
  7. To Serve: Transfer to a serving dish and and serve immediately with the warm steamed rice.

Notes

  1. A note on Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Paste): This recipe is based on using a Cantonese style Dou Ban Jiang – Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce. The taste will be slightly different if using a Taiwanese, Japanese, or Pixian Dou Ban Jiang. If using Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang, you may need to only add 1-2 tablespoons of the paste as it is quite salty and more spicy. In addition, you may need to reduce the amount of soy sauce.
  2. To make it vegetarian/vegan: Simply omit the minced pork and add only 1-2 tablespoons of Dou Ban Jiang on top of the aromatics. Stir-fry to combine for a minute, then follow steps 4-7 as indicated in the instructions. Also, use ½ cup Dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms to make up for the difference in quantity if omitting the pork.
  3. To make it gluten-free: Double check that your Dou Ban Jiang doesn’t have any ingredients with gluten in it. Also, use a gluten-free soy sauce and gluten-free dark soy sauce.
  4. Use a different protein: Leave out the pork, or swap for ground chicken, turkey, lamb, or even beef! You can also try making it with a plant-based ground beef product such as Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef if making this vegetarian. 

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Nutrition

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.