Hello Everyone! Back in May of last year, a foodie friend of mine and I started hosting open food collaborations on Instagram under the Foodies United PH group that we co-admin. Most of the food that I featured for the collaborations didn’t end up here on my blog; the reason being was that it didn’t fit with the theme. This is also part of the reason why I decided not to go with a theme for my blog for this year.
This post was supposed to go up on Sunday, but I was having issues with WordPress at that time. Anyway, on Sunday 16 January 2022, we hosted a collaboration for International Hot & Spicy Food Day. I love spicy food, and I would say that my spice tolerance is above average. When I was brainstorming a dish for this collaboration, I had a faint memory of an eggplant dish that I had way back when I was still studying in Australia. I remember it being a spicy dish that I absolutely loved, but unfortunately could not remember what the dish was. So after some research, I think the closest to my vivid memory of the dish is Yu Xiang Qie Zi, or in English, Sichuan Eggplant, which is the dish that I am featuring to celebrate International Hot & Spicy Food Day.
Before we begin, here’s a fun fact: Yu Xiang literally translates to ‘fish-fragrant’ while Qie Zi means ‘eggplant’. Despite the literal translation, this dish does not actually have any fish in it. The term is actually a style of cooking for a particular Sichuan fish dish. Since this eggplant dish uses the same aromatics, sauce, and style of cooking, it was named Yu Xiang, preceding the Qie Zi.
Yu Xiang Qie Zi is essentially a Sichuan chilli garlic eggplant stir-fry, and can be cooked with or with minced pork. The addition of minced pork is to add more flavour to the dish, but you can completely leave this out to make this a vegetarian/vegan friendly dish. I wanted to add mince though for texture to contrast the eggplants. So I decided to try out Veega’s Meat-free Giniling (in English, mince) in place for the minced pork. I’ve been seeing this product all over social media for the past year and have been wanting to try it out, but to my surprise though, their meat-free giniling actually contains egg whites. I’m not sure if their other products also include egg (or derivatives) in them.
I checked to see if they are marketing their brand as vegan, which thankfully they aren’t, but did state they are a vegetarian line, which they should actually properly label as ovo-vegetarian (a person who does not eat meat or dairy products but does eat eggs and egg-derived ingredients) in my opinion. I did also see that they’ve started a vegan line with no egg or dairy in them – so this is something I look forward to trying as well!
Yu Xiang Qie Zi is a quick and easy dish that you can be put together with minimal effort in under 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for a weeknight lunch or dinner.
PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 5-6
- 6 long eggplants, halved and then cut into long strips
- 1 tsp salt, for soaking
- Cornstarch, for cooking
- Oil, for frying
- 200g Veega meat-free giniling (mince)
- 1 tbsp doubanjiang (chilli bean paste)
- 3 red chillies, minced
- 2 dried red chillies, chopped
- 3 tsp grated ginger
- Spring onion (white part), chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
For the sauce
- 1/3 cup water (or veggie stock)
- 4 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp black vinegar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 & 1/2 tsp sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Red chillies, chopped
- Spring onion (green part), chopped
- Sauce: Add all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
- Eggplant: Soak the eggplant slices in salted water for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain and pat dry.
- Evenly coat the individual eggplant slices in cornstarch and shallow fry in a preheated pan over high heat, until browned. Remove and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease. Work in batches if needed. Set aside.
- Turn the heat down to medium and remove some of the oil, leaving behind about a tablespoon’s worth.
- Sichuan Eggplant: In the same pan, sauté the garlic, chillies, ginger, and white part of the spring onion until golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the meat-free mince and continue to cook, stirring for about 2 to 3 minutes, before adding the chilli bean paste and cooking for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the sauce mixture to the pan and cook until thickened. Turn the heat off.
- Immediately stir in the eggplant and then plate up. Garnish with the green part of the spring onion and extra chilli slices (optional). Serve with freshly steamed rice and enjoy!
– Ally xx
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