Fragrant Pork

In Sichuan cooking, there are over twenty-three different flavours that can be created. 'Yu-shiang' or 'fish fragrant' is just one of these, but this dish does not actually taste 'fishy'. It is a way of describing the almost bouillon-like taste that is derived from using a good stock. Here, the flavour is created using a good chicken stock, chilli bean sauce and rice vinegar. I love cooking this dish time and time again.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 32 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Cook: 7 min
  • Yield: 3 servings
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Ingredients

6 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) or vegetable oil

1 eggplant, halved lengthwise, and cut into long 1/2-inch thick slices 

Water, as needed

2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger 

1 medium red chile, finely chopped

7 ounces ground pork

1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

2 tablespoons chile bean sauce, see Cook's Note

7 ounces chicken stock, hot

2 pak choy or 1/2 head Chinese cabbage, halved and sliced lengthwise 

1 tablespoon clear rice vinegar or cider vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 spring onions, chopped

1 tablespoon cornstarch, blended with 2 tablespoons cold water

Directions

  1. Set a wok over a high heat, and add 4 tablespoons groundnut oil. Fry the eggplant slices with just a splash of water, being careful of the splatter, until softened and golden on the outside. Transfer to a plate, and set aside. 
  2. Wipe down the wok, reheat, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons groundnut oil. Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and chile for a few seconds, and then add the ground pork. Stir-fry for 1 minute, and then pour in the rice wine or sherry. Cook until the meat has browned, and then add the chile bean sauce, and stock. Return the eggplant slices to the wok, along with the pak choy. 
  3. Season the dish with the vinegar, and sesame oil, and bring everything to a boil. Stir in the chopped spring onions. Add the blended cornstarch slurry, and stir to thicken the sauce. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Note

Can be found at specialty Asian markets.

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