- 80 ml (1/3 cup) peanut oil
- 3 small eggplant, each cut into 8 wedges
- 150 gm minced pork
- 1 tbsp coarsely crushed Sichuan peppercorns
- 25 gm ginger, coarsely chopped and pounded with a mortar and pestle to a paste
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp Chinese chilli bean paste
- 100 ml chicken stock
- 60 ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) Chinkiang vinegar
- To serve: coarsely chopped coriander, thinly sliced spring onions, prickly ash oil (see note) and steamed jasmine rice
- 1Preheat oven to 150C. Heat 50ml oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Brush eggplant with remaining oil and cook in batches, turning, until golden (3-5 minutes). Transfer to a casserole dish.
- 2Add pork to pan and stir occasionally until cooked (3-5 minutes). Add peppercorns and stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then add ginger, garlic and chilli bean paste, and stir until colour deepens (1-2 minutes). Add stock or 100ml water, soy sauce and vinegar, and bring to the boil, then pour mixture over eggplant, cover with a lid or foil and braise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove cover and braise until eggplant is very tender (45 minutes to 1 hour).
- 3Serve hot scattered with coriander and shallots, dotted with prickly ash oil to taste, and with steamed rice to the side.
Note Prickly ash oil, also known as Sichuan peppercorn oil, is available from Asian grocers.
Drink Suggestion: Earthy, silky pinot noir. Drink suggestion by Max Allen