Sichuan food is probably our favourite amongst the regional Chinese cuisines, given our fondness for spicy food. And the combination of the flavours like garlic, chilli and the Sichuan peppercorn also make it extremely addictive!

With Fuchsia Dunlop’s book, the Food of Sichuan, having finally arrived, I was keen to try some of the recipes. And I settled on a spicy steamed eggplant dish, as I have had this in a restaurant before and loved it.

Steaming is an unusual way of preparing the eggplant, since we normally either roast or pan fry eggplants in Indian recipes. But the contrast of the light flavour of the steamed eggplant with the bold, punchy flavours of the Sichuan sauce is what makes this dish really delicious.

I didn’t have all the ingredients for the sauce at home, so modified the recipe a little bit. I also didn’t take the skin off the eggplants, since it actually tastes really nice with the skin on.

Ingredients

  • 2 long eggplants
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chilli oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp sichuan pepper powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • Chopped spring onion greens

Method

Cut each eggplant in the middle to get two halves. Then slice each half down the centre to get two pieces each. Cut each piece into quarters. You should get a total of 16 slices per eggplant.

Fill a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Arrange the eggplant slices in the steamer and place the steamer on top of the pot of water. Let it steam till the eggplant slices are cooked and soft. This should take 12-15 mins and you can insert a knife through the centre of a slice to check if it has cooked through.

While the eggplants are cooking, add all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and mix them using a fork/spoon. The soy sauce will make the dressing salty, so taste it before adding extra salt. You can add extra chilli oil or chilli/Sichuan pepper powder if you want it to be spicier. After mixing, keep the sauce aside.

Remove the slices, and place them in your serving bowl. Let them cool down slightly. Then drizzle your spicy sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle the onion greens over the slices.

We had this as a side dish with some barley and smashed cucumbers, but it can be eaten on its own as an appetiser. Dip the eggplant slices in the sauce when eating them 🙂

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