Sichuan Braised Eggplants (素魚香茄子)

Soft, luscious, and vibrantly purple braised eggplants — a Sichuan classic, vegan-ized. The dish elicits warmth and luxury, and is marked by the trifecta of sweet, salty, and spicy. Quite the epitome of Sichuan flavors and textures.

The name “魚香,” also known as “Fish-Fragrance,” comes from the “fishy” flavors of fermented bean paste, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Note that the original, non-vegan version does not actually contain fish!


An Alternative to TVP

If you do not have access to TVP or dislike using TVP, I’m here to tell you that firm tofu is a great alternative! To prepare the tofu, first press it with a tofu press or some heavy objects to remove excess liquid. Then, simply use your hands and crumble the tofu into tiny pieces as shown. From there, cook the crumbled tofu just as you would cook TVP (instructions below).


Sichuan Braised Eggplants (素魚香茄子)

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by George L. Course: LunchCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Medium
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

A vegan version of the Sichuan classic: braised eggplants (魚香茄子). The sauce has all of sweet, salty, and spicy, and the eggplants are soft & luscious. Perfect over a bed of fluffy steamed rice.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium -sized Chinese eggplants

  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

  • For Braising
  • 1/8 cup textured vegetable protein (substitute: 50 g crumbled tofu)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

  • 4 dried chilis, deseeded & thinly sliced

  • 1 scallion, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons doubanjiang, or spicy broad bean paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 cup room temperature water

  • 1 tablespoon chili oil (home-made recipe HERE)

  • Thickening Agent
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (up to 1 tablespoon, if desired)

  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  • Prepare the TVP. Soak the TVP in warm water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain the water and squeeze out excess liquid from the re-hydrated TVP. 
  • Prepare the Eggplants. Slice the eggplants diagonally, turning the eggplant 180 degrees after each slice. Quickly place all the eggplants in a bowl and add cornstarch, salt, and distilled vinegar. Toss to combine, making sure that each slice of eggplant is well-coated. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, pour out any liquid that has gathered at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Fry the Eggplants. Heat up a healthy amount of oil (think between shallow-frying and deep-frying) in a non-stick pan or wok. Once the oil is hot enough (such that a wooden utensil instantly bubbles in the oil), fry the eggplants for 1-2 minutes, or until softened and acquired a vibrant purple. Note: be sure not to over-crowd the pan/wok, the eggplants should all be mostly submerged in the oil while frying. Once the eggplants are done frying, quickly drain & remove from the oil. Spread the eggplants out on a single-layer to cool. Note: do not pile them in a bowl, as the residual heat will cause some eggplants to overcook and lose their purple color.
  • Make the Braised Eggplants. Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick pan/wok on medium-high heat. Fry together the garlic, ginger, dried chilis, and TVP until nicely browned and caramelized, or until the TVP achieves a meaty but not crunchy texture. Add the scallions, doubanjiang, ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional), roasted peanuts, and cook together while stirring for an additional 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan/wok with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and water (I like to pre-combine them). Add back the fried eggplants, followed with a drizzle of cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Cook everything together for an additional minute, and take off the heat once eggplants are tender (again, be careful not to overcook them). Drizzle with chili oil to finish. Serve warm.

Notes

  • For optimal color, the eggplants should be very fresh. A fresh & young eggplant still has white spots on top (near the stem).

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to see your recreations!

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Taylor Tries Her Best
2 months ago

Your food always looks so amazing!