This dish is absolutely to die for, 100% will be putting it on repeat in the favourite go-to dinner rotation! If you love spicy, creative, veggie-forward dishes - this one is a must try!
Never cooked with eggplant? Have no fear! This recipe makes dipping your toes into the eggplant game as easy as possible, it calls for the skin and all, so you're only discarding the stem! Minimal waste, minimal effort = happy dietitian.
Eggplant has got to be one of the most under-rated groceries in the produce section. This vegetable is packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and makes for a delicious addition to so many dishes (i.e. stir-fry, pasta, soups!)
How do I pick an eggplant?
Choosing a younger/smaller eggplant typically means the skin will be more tender, as the purple skin tends to get tougher as the plant ages. So, in the case of eggplants, *bigger is not always better* - choose one of the smaller or medium eggplants from the selection at the market. There are also two different types of eggplants you may see at your grocery store: (1) Italian. eggplants, which are the the deep purple globe shaped ones, and (2) Japanese eggplants, which look like purple zucchini with the green stem on top. Both are great options for this particular dish!
Recipe makes 4 servings
1 block medium firm tofu
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 medium Italian eggplant (or 2 Japanese eggplants), cut lengthwise and then into bite size cubes - only discarding the stem
2 tsp salt
1 medium zucchini (or 2 small), cut in half lengthwise and then into half moon shapes
2 handfuls of green beans, ends trimmed
4 tbsp oil for frying (I used avocado oil)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, grated or minced
Chilli flakes, crushed cashews, and chopped chives to top
1 tsp peppercorns
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (mirin)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice (can make own at home if don’t have with 2 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp anise seeds, 2 tsp cloves, 2 tsp peppercorns, and 1 tbsp fennel seeds - blend all in grinder)
Let's make magic:
Place the cut eggplant into a large bowl, cover with water and mix in 2 tsp of salt (let sit for 20-30 minutes, while preparing everything else for the dish).
In the meantime, cut the tofu into bite sized cubes and let sit on paper towel to dry.
Prepare the zucchini and beans, mince the garlic and ginger, and set aside for now.
Make the Szechuan sauce by adding all ingredients into a blender and blitzing until peppercorns have all been split well.
Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat, toss the tofu in cornstarch, and fry until all sides are golden brown and crispy - remove from pan and set aside for now.
In the same pan/wok, add a little more oil along with the garlic and ginger, cook for ~1-2 minutes, then add in the beans and zucchini and stir to combine. Drain the eggplant, and add into the pan along with the other veggies.
Pour in the Szechuan sauce, mix to coat all veggies, and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add in the crispy tofu, mix to coat with sauce, and enjoy!
Serve with your starch of choice - rice noodles, chow mein noodles, or rice make great options!
Adapted from @feastingathome