Szechuan pepper


Ingredients:
  • 250 gm (1/2 lb) ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp of Szechuan pepper-corns (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Shao Hsing cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili-bean sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 600 gm (~1 1/4 lbs) Asian eggplants, cut into 2 cm (3/4-in) cubes
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp black chinese vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped


Method:
  1. In a wok, over high heat, heat the vegetable oil until smoking. Add the pork and stir-fry until browned, breaking up the clumps of meat with the spatula to give a relatively dry well sealed meat. This action takes a reasonable amount of energy because you must keep the stirring going to prevent burning. This brings out the best flavour of the meat.
  2. Immediately add the chillie-bean sauce, garlic, ginger and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  3. Add the eggplant and stir-fry until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, the remaining 1 Tbsp of soy sauce, Shao Hsing wine and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the broth, cover and cook over moderate heat until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the vinegar and cornstarch mixture and stir until the sauce thickens, about 15 seconds. Drizzle the sesame oil over the eggplant and transfer to a serving platter.
  6. Garnish with  toasted sesame seeds and diced scallions. Serve.

This dish may be a little light of salt but diners are free to add their own seasoning for their palate preference. The increasing number of people who prefer a lower salt taste is significant. The Asian restaurants  generally don't have table salt as a diner's condiment but I think this is most likely to happen soon.