How To Make Chinese Stuffed Fried Eggplant?
How to make Chinese Stuffed Fried Eggplant
Sichuan-style? So. This’s zhaqiehe, my all time favorite eggplant dish.
Now this’s one of those dishes you can find throughout the country – from Dongbei to Zhejiang, but I first fell in love with the
dish at a fly restaurant outside of Chengdu, which’s what we’ll be mimicking today.
What you’re looking at is some tender eggplant, stuffed, deep-fried, and served with a bit of a salt and pepper spice mix for dipping.
How To Make Chinese Stuffed Fried Eggplant?
The eggplant inside just sort of melts here, so you end up with this awesome crispy on the outside gooey on the inside situation
To get started with our fried eggplant, we’ll need pork.
Before we scare all the vegetarians away though, know that this stuffing really depends on your philosophy of the dish.
You can actually totally go stuffing-less with basically no change to the recipe, we often do that out of laziness and it totally
At the other extreme, you’ll also see some people stuff this with what can only be described as a meatball-sized filling.
Our personal favorite though is probably the midpoint between the two – basically just a thin smear of pork filling.
Because of that, we really won’t really need too much pork here about 75 grams worth of either ham or belly about two
thirds lean and one-third fat either way.
Slice by first getting the lean into sheets, stack the sheets and cut down into slivers, and finally align those slivers and cut into
a rough dice.
Do the same with the fat, we did this separately because it’s just easier with the ham cut, but totally to do it all in one go if you’re
working with a belly.
Combine, then just go at it for a few minutes to get in into more of a mince.
You don’t need to go too crazy here – this isn’t like lion’s heat meatball or something where you need your mix super pasty.
Just four or five minutes of chopping should be enough to get to something that’s this kind of ground pork sort of texture.
So then to that, we’ll toss in an inch of ginger, finely minced, and the white bottom part of one scallion, also finely minced.
Now marinate with an eighth teaspoon salt, a quarter teaspoon sugar, half teaspoon cornstarch, half teaspoon light soy sauce, half teaspoon liaojiu aka Shaoxing wine, and a sprinkle or about the eighth teaspoon of white pepper powder.
Give it a thorough mix for about a minute, then add a tablespoon of water and continue to mix for another minute or so the purpose of the water here is to help make the filling juicier.
Now just set that aside until you’re ready to stuff.
Now for the dip, this is a classic Sichuan jiao yan ‘salt and pepper’ mix, the ‘pepper’ in that salt and pepper by the way referring
of course to Sichuan peppercorn.
To make it, first, toast a quarter teaspoon of whole Sichuan peppercorns over a medium flame for about two minutes.
You’ll generally know that the peppercorns are done once they leave little oil splotches on your pan, but with this small amount here that can sometimes be a little tough to see.
Another way to tell is if little bumps start to form on the skin of the husk-like this.
Then add those to a mortar along with a half teaspoon salt and a half teaspoon MSG.
Traditionally, Sichuan salt and pepper mix is a flat ratio of one part Sichuan peppercorn to four parts salt but that little fly
the restaurant added an obvious kick of MSG to theirs, which we quite liked for this dish.
Now finally, the eggplant.
This is a Chinese eggplant, which has more tender flesh and’ll get nice and gooey after frying.
To cut it for stuffing, cut in about half an inch, then slice down 90% of the way.
Then move over another half inch, then cut all the way down.
This’ll give us a nice pocket for our stuffing.
We’re doing this cutting of the eggplant last by the way because you don’t want too much time between slicing it and frying it.
eggplant has this nasty tendency to oxidize and turn a sort of brown-ish color if left out.
So work through your eggplant, and we can coat.
Our fry coating is a dusting of dry starch followed by thin batter to coat.
This dry bit is a mix of 20 grams all-purpose flour and ten grams of cornstarch this mix of starches helps make the coating a touch
So with that just give the eggplant slices a good dusting, being sure to sprinkle a bit in the middle to help the filling stick
and knock it a couple of times to get off any excess.
Now once you’ve coated all those, you can stuff your eggplant with the pork filling we made earlier.
Again we’re not going to go too nuts with filling quantity here, just enough to give an extra bit of richness, or about one
Toss that in, lightly squeeze it shut, and make sure you don’t have any extra pork spilling out.
Work through the eggplant, and then these can get their final coating of batter and go straight into the wok.
That batter is a mix of 50 grams AP flour, twenty grams of cornstarch, half teaspoon five-spice powder, and a quarter teaspoon
Combine, mix well, then add in 90 milliliters of water.
Mix it again for about a minute or so, being sure not to overwork it because if gluten develops here the coating can get overly hard.
So now we can fry.
So in a wok with about four cups of oil, heat that up over max flame until the oil reaches about 180 Celcius.
Now take your eggplant and give it about three or four flips in the batter… then, drop it in.
Do the same with the rest of your eggplant, and if you’re working with a smaller wok word of warning that you might have to do
two batches here.
Adding the eggplant will lower the temperature of oil, which’s fine because we’re aiming to fry this at 145.
Flip periodically, and fry for another five minutes or until the eggplant’s starting to look lightly golden brown.
Then take it out, get the oil up to a blistering 200 centigrade, and drop it back in for a final thirty seconds to crisp things right
Remove, and toss on a paper towel lined plate.
Serve with the salt and peppercorn mix for dipping, and with that, the stuffed fried eggplant is done.
So if you’re making this in the context of a bigger meal, what we like to do like
when we have friends over, we’ll do the first deep fry to set it, and then do the second deep fry right before eating to
make it crispy and hot.
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