This could easily be called sichuan eggplant, but I prefer to think of it as mapo eggplant, as that’s what inspired the recipe. I’ve expressed how much I love mapo tofu in my previous post and this dish runs a close second. I came up with this to use up our abundance of eggplant in our garden this year; my desire for spicy foods prevailed over traditional dishes like moussaka.
The eggplant gets a perfect soft and chewy texture when fried, and soaks up the sauce perfectly. I use mushrooms and seitan to mimic the pork in traditional mapo tofu and add some green onions for color. I usually grind my own sichuan peppercorns and make my own chili oil, but you don’t have to go through all that effort if you can buy them both. The fermented black beans and chili bean paste are key in this recipe; you can make it without them, but they add a depth you can’t get without them.
• 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-2 inch slices and salted for 30 minutes
• 8 ounces mushrooms, diced finely
• 4 ounces seitan, diced finely
• 3 green onions, chopped into 1 inch lengths
• 1/4 cup neutral oil, vegetable or canola
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp fermented black beans
• 1 tbsp ginger
• 1 cup vegetable broth
• 1/4 cup douban jiang/chili bean paste
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 1 tbsp sambal oelek
• 2 tbsp chili oil
• 2 tsp sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
• 1 tbsp sesame oil
• 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbsp cold water
1. Heat oil over medium high heat in wok or large nonstick skillet. Add eggplant and cook for 10 minutes until beginning to soften.
2. Lower heat and add mushrooms, black beans, garlic, and seitan. Cook for another 5-8 minutes.
3. Add ginger, broth, soy sauce, chili bean paste, sambal, brown sugar and chili oil. Cook for 5 minutes until bubbling and add green onions. Slowly stir in cornstarch slurry.
4. Sprinkle ground sichuan pepper on top and drizzle with sesame oil.
5. Serve with rice.