This is a vegan take on a classic Sichuan dish, the dish is usually made with pork mince but here I’ve substituted that for peanuts which are simmered in the sauce to give a similar soft texture. The signature of the dish along with most Sichuan cooking is intense heat. The heat comes mainly from the la doubanjiang, a paste made from chilli and broad beans.
As well as this the dish is flavoured with Sichuan pepper. Sichuan pepper is a unique spice, its flavour is citrusy and almost metallic but in addition it causes a tingling, numbing sensation on the lips and tongue which adds a unique experience to Sichuan dishes.
Both Sichuan pepper and la doubanjiang can be difficult to source in Western countries but I was ale to locate them at my local Asian grocer.
Vegan Sichuan Braised Eggplant
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 4 small eggplants cut into sixths lengthwise
- 1 medium brown onion diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 tablespoons la doubanjiang (chilli bean paste)
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup chin kiang vinegar
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
- thinly sliced spring onions and chilli to serve
- fresh coriander to serve
- steamed rice to serve
- Preheat oven to 150°C. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Place eggplant pieces in batches, cut side down into the oil and cook for 3 minutes then turn and cook a further 3 minutes. Remove from pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the carrot and onion to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes. Stir in the peppercorns, garlic and ginger then sauté a further two minutes. Add in the bean paste and sauté for two minutes.
- Add the stock, soy, vinegar and peanuts then stir to combine. Submerge the eggplant pieces in the liquid then bring to a boil.
- Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise for 1 hour then uncover then braise for a further 45 minutes. Transfer to serving dish then top with coriander, chilli and spring onion. Serve with a side of steamed rice.