Spicy Sichuan eggplant is also known as fish fragrant eggplant which translated into Chinese is Yu Xiang egg plant (Chinese: 魚香茄子). Yu means fish in Chinese, Xiang means fragrant/aroma. But this dish has nothing to do with fish at all. It’s called “fish fragrant/Yu Xiang” because the ingredients for this dish are usuall used when cooking fish but people use it for cooking tofu, eggplant and other dishes.
There is a story about this fish fragrant/Yu Xiang dish. A long time ago in Sichuan, there was a family who were really serious when it came to cooking fish. They would use ginger, spring onion, garlic, mince, chili bean sauce (doubanjiang) and other ingredients to cook with fish. One day, the lady of this family didn’t want to waste the ingredients for cooking fish so she used the ingredients to cook another dish. She was however really nervous that it wouldn’t taste nice and her husband wouldn’t like it.
Her husband came home while she was thinking about what she should explain to her husband later about this dish. Her husband was so hungry from work he didn't wait for dinner to start and literally just took a few bites of this dish.
He asked his wife: “Oh, this dish is the most tasty dish that I ever had in my life, how did you do it?” She told him how she cooked it and they gave the name of this dish “fish fragrant fry” (魚香炒). This is where the name “fish fragrant” came from.
People who are vegetarian can also cook this dish but just without any mince and use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth and increase the amount of eggplant used. You can adjust the amount of chilli and chilli bean sauce if you prefer your food more or less spicy.
This recipe is from our former Chinese food expert.
Edited by Liv Wan
- For the Dish:
- 1/4 pound ground pork
- 4 Asian eggplants
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying (or as needed)
- 1 tablespoon chili bean sauce (doubanjiang)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili paste with garlic (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon red rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons corn flour
- Combine the ground pork with the salt, pepper and corn flour. Marinate the pork for 15 minutes.
- While the pork is marinating, prepare the remaining ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, dark and light soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Whisk in the corn flour.
- Cut the eggplant into 1-inch squares. Mince the garlic.
- Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant.
- Stir-fry the eggplant until it is softened (about 5 minutes). Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and bean sauce.
- Stir-fry until aromatic. Add the ground pork. Stir-fry until it changes colour, using cooking chopsticks or a wooden spoon to separate the individual pieces.
- Push the pork up to the sides of the wok. Add the sauce in the middle and bring to a boil, stirring quickly to thicken. Add the eggplant slices and the chili paste. Cook for a few more minutes and stir in the sesame oil. Serve hot.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes