If I tell you that I can’t eat the dish we’re about to make today without moaning softly, that’s not a lie. Just ask my roommates, who have to listen to my obscene ge-mmmm every time I let a strip of silky eggplant squeezed between two sticks slither in. I try not to do it, but I like Fuchsia Dunlops fish fragrant aubergine just too tasty.

Eggplant with fish flavor? Yep, that’s exactly what the dish is called in the Dutch translation of Dunlop’s cookbook Sichuan. Strange name, especially since it does not involve any fish, not even in the form of fish sauce. The explanation is that the flavors in this sauce are traditionally associated with fish dishes.

As mentioned, Dunlop’s book on the cuisine of the Chinese province of Szechuan has been translated. And yet here we are going to work with the recipe from the original book from 2001, Sichuan Cookery. For some reason, the ingredients list has been tinkered with in that Dutch version. Suddenly, sesame oil is no longer used, but more garlic, chinkiga vinegar, spring onion and – the biggest problem – much more sugar.

So the original version, although I have to say that I often use a little more soy sauce myself. You can buy chili bean paste and chinkianga vinegar at the toko. The paste is made from fermented fava beans and chili peppers. It has a deep red colour, is quite spicy and gives dishes that typical Sichuanese aroma that, for example, also makes that other classic from this region, mapo doufu, so irresistible. Chinkiang is a black vinegar with a very typical, slightly caramel-like taste.

Dunlop thinks it shouldn’t be, but I also like to sprinkle a small pinch of roasted and coarsely crushed Sichuan pepper over the dish at the end. That tingles so pleasantly on your tongue and gives the dish an even higher mmmm content.

Eggplant with fish flavor for (2 – 3 persons)

600 g – 700 g eggplant;
vegetable oil for frying;
1.5 the Sichuanese chilibonenpasta;
3 tsp minced garlic;
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger;
150 g warme bouillon of water;
1.5 tsp fine granulated sugar;
½ tsp light soy sauce (or more, to taste);
¾ tsp potato starch mixed with 1 tbsp cold water;
1.5 tl chinkiangazijn;
1 tsp sesame oil;
4 tbsp thinly sliced ​​spring onion greens.

cuts the eggplant into sticks of about 2 cm thick and 7 cm long. Sprinkle with salt, mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Rinse the aubergine sticks, drain well and pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the frying oil to about 200 degrees. Deep-fry the aubergine in two to three batches for about 3 minutes until done and slightly golden brown. Drain well on kitchen paper and set aside.

pour Carefully drain the oil from the wok, except for 3 tablespoons, and return to medium heat. Stir-fry the chili bean paste in the oil until it is red and fragrant. Be careful that it does not burn, remove the wok from the heat as soon as you think it is getting too hot. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant.

Doe Add the stock or water, sugar and soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil and add the aubergine sticks; gently push them into the sauce so they don’t break. Let them simmer for a minute so they can absorb the flavors.

stir the starch paste briefly and pour it gradually into the wok while stirring; use just enough to bind the sauce to a glossy gravy (you probably won’t need all of it). Add the vinegar and sesame oil and 1 tablespoon after the spring onion, and stir for a few seconds. Sprinkle with the rest of the spring onion before serving. Serve with cooked white or brown rice.