This is one of my favourite dishes at a local Chinese restaurant in Victoria, BC (Check it out here!
It’s quite labour intensive to make but I was happy with the results. I merged a few recipes I found together but there was definitely a lot of improvisation, tweaking the taste of the sauce. Here is a good reference recipe (here) that you can use for the process.
Essentially, you take Asian eggplants and quarter them into 2-3 inch long batons, and soak them in salted water (this prevents the eggplants from getting too oily when fried).
This dish is all about the sauce which may require you to go your closest Asian grocery store for some of the unique ingredients. The sauce I made has Chinkiang black vinegar, soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing), Pixian fermented bean paste (doubanjiang), sugar, pickled or salted hot peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, green onions, shallots, garlic, ginger, dried Chinese hot peppers, water and cornstarch.
Once the eggplant strips are soaked, you toss them with some cornstarch, which helps to create a crust when you fry them in vegetable oil. Stir fry them until soft and put them aside.
To make the sauce, stir fry the shallots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms together (you can use shiitake or brown mushrooms). In a bowl, mix all the soy, wine, paste, vinegar, sugar, water, cornstarch, pickled peppers and dried chilies. Add this to the mushroom mix and bring to a simmer and you will see the sauce begin to thicken. Toss your pre-fried eggplant pieces into the sauce. Warm through and garnish with more scallions, serve with steamed rice. Adjust the flavours to your own taste, I add a bit more vinegar because I like the sour aftertaste.
If you’ve got some time, I hope you give this a try! Bon appetit!
-The Simmering Pot