Aubergine & Szechuan pepers

Léonie aka Madame Mode, asked if I know a recipe using szechuan pepper. I only use them when I make mapo tofu and that’s it. Too bad that I only use the spice occasionally. They aren’t spicy like other peppers but rather have a citrusy flavor and induce a tingly numbing sensation. But I found a match – eggplant.
NOTE: chili bean paste has a powerful taste, so if you never used it before start with 1/2 tablespoon. Taste and add more if you like.
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for 3 persons
1 1/2 eggplant or asian eggplant
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 – 1 1/2 tablespoons chili bean paste
2 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns, lightly roasted in a dry skillet, crushed
3 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon corn starch or potato starch
2 teaspoons Chinkiang rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

3 scallions, roughly chopped

1. In a small bowl, mix together the vegetable stock, sugar, and soy sauce and set it aside. In a second bowl, mix together the chili bean paste, garlic, ginger, and szechuan peppercorns and set it aside. In a third bowl, mix together the potato starch with a tablespoon of water and set it aside. Lastly, in a fourth bowl, mix together the scallions and vinegar and set it aside.
2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil. Add the eggplant cubes in a single layer, without crowding. Fry the eggplant cubes on high heat till they are golden.
3. Add the chili bean paste, garlic, ginger, and szechuan peppercorns and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the vegetable stock mixture, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 90 seconds. Add the potato starch mixture and stir together until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the scallions and vinegar and cook for 15 seconds to diffuse their harsh flavors a bit. Taste the dish and add more chili bean sauce if you like.
Enjoy!

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