Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food restaurant in New York shared his eggplant frying technique (described in Kellie Evans's article Eggplant Essentials), for this classic dish. See Matt Gross's article Flavors of Sichuan for information on hard-to-find ingredients.
- 3 cups canola oil
- 4 small Japanese eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise, and cut in half crosswise
- 10 suan miao (Chinese chives, blossoms discarded) or scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (2") piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp. douban jiang (Chinese red chile bean paste)
- 2 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. Chinkiang black vinegar, for garnish
- 1 tsp. sesame oil, for garnish
- Steamed rice, for serving
Heat oil in a 14" wok to 350°. Using a knife, score the eggplant flesh or skin in a crosshatch pattern, about ⅙" deep. Submerge eggplant in ice water for 5 minutes. Drain eggplant and dry with paper towels; add to oil. Cook until slightly tender, 2–3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl; cover with boiling water and let sit for 3 minutes. Drain and dry; set aside.
Discard all but ¼ cup oil in the wok; return to medium-high heat. Add chives, garlic, and ginger; cook until soft, 3–5 minutes. Add chile bean paste, soy, and sugar; bring to a simmer. Add eggplant and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a platter; garnish with chives, vinegar, and sesame oil. Serve with rice.