"The spicy eggplant at Sydney's Good Luck Pinbone is one of my favourites. Would you get the recipe?" - Susan Ridge, Bowral, NSW
- 1½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 golden shallots (50gm), finely chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¾ tsp caster sugar
- 1 litre vegetable oil (4 cups)
- 1 eggplant (500gm), cut into 2cm pieces
- 2 tbsp chilli sauce (we used Lao Gan Ma)
- 2 tbsp shoyu (see note)
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Pinch of white pepper
- 3 spring onions, 2 cut into 4cm lengths, 1 thinly sliced
- 100 gm wood-ear fungus, torn (1 punnet)
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
- ½ cup (loosely packed) coriander
- Steamed rice, to serve
- 1Dry-roast peppercorns and ½ tsp salt flakes in a wok over medium-low heat until just starting to smoke (3-4 minutes), then immediately pound to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle.
- 2Combine shallot, lemon juice and a pinch each of sugar and salt in a small bowl.
- 3Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (about 180C) and deep-fry eggplant in batches until golden brown (3-5 minutes). Drain on paper towel. Pour oil into a heatproof bowl for another use, reserving 1 tbsp.
- 4Gently combine eggplant, pickled shallot, chilli sauce, shoyu, vinegar, pepper and remaining sugar in a bowl.
- 5Heat reserved oil in wok until very hot, then add spring onion batons and fungus and stir-fry until fragrant. Add garlic, stir-fry until just turning golden, then add eggplant mixture and sesame oil. Spoon onto a serving plate, scatter with Sichuan pepper and salt, sliced spring onion, chilli and coriander. Serve with steamed rice.
Shoyu, traditionally brewed Japanese soy sauce, is available from Asian supermarkets.