STIR-FRIED EGGPLANT, POTATOES & PEPPERS
Dish made famous in Shandong, made of stir-fried eggplant, potatoes, and bell peppers called Di San Xian. A poetic translation of the dish’s name roughly translates to “three worldly blessings.”
Many of you have tried Shandong’s lu food before. My Braised Glass Noodles with Pork and Napa Cabbage, for example, is already in your repertoire! Sarah studied Chinese at Qingdao University during her undergraduate summers in Qingdao, Shandong’s capital city.
Some of her happiest recollections from that summer were linked to eating. Her jaw dropped when she saw how inexpensive and delicious the food was. If a group of us went out to dine, she said, we would invariably get Di San Xian with rice and some sort of simple stir-fry with eggs and tomatoes.
All three veggies are traditionally fried before being combined in a sauce at the end of this dish’s preparation. It’s called “zou-you,” or “walking the oil” in Japanese. Rather than deep-frying the vegetables, I browned them in a pan using a shallow-frying method. In addition, I chose to finish browning the eggplant at the end because it absorbs a lot of oil if you do not.
You may recognize this meal if you’ve had it before, but I opted to use red and yellow bell peppers instead of the customary purple and yellow to add a little more color. Green bell peppers were not readily available, so I used red.) Regarding this meal, don’t be fooled by the bright colors!
The vegetables in your garden are about to ripen; therefore, I think this recipe is well timed. It likely bears your name. Cooking times for these three vegetables vary, so keep that in mind: the potato needs the most time, while peppers cook quickly. Make this recipe a staple in your household by following the instructions to the letter!
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 scallions (chopped)
- 1½ tbsp. of cornstarch
- 3 tbsp. of water
- 2 pcs. of long Chinese eggplants
- 1 pc. of large potato (peeled and cut on an angle into large bite-sized pieces)
- ½ red bell pepper (bite-sized cut)
- ½ orange bell pepper (bite-sized cut)
- 4 tbsp. of oil
- 1 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- ½ tsp. of sugar
- ¼ tsp. of white pepper
- ½ tsp. of sesame oil
- Salt to taste
- Let’s first get the following things ready: A tiny dish of water and cornstarch is all needed for this recipe. Begin by putting everything else aside.
- Then, using a clean kitchen towel, dry all the vegetables before chopping them into large, bite-sized pieces. Keep the sliced potatoes and eggplants fresh by not allowing them to sit around for too long before cooking.
- We’re now ready to begin cooking. Over medium-high heat, add the oil to the wok. Add the potato and cook for about 8 minutes until it is tender but firm to the bite. Give them a little stir every few minutes to prevent them from burning. After another minute, add the bell peppers and continue to cook. Put everything in a bowl and leave it there.
- The wok should still have some oil in it. Brown the eggplant in the pan with the onion and garlic. Bill taught me this technique: distribute the eggplant pieces in a single layer, cover the lid for a minute, uncover, mix the eggplant to avoid scorching, and repeat. To ensure that the eggplant is cooked to your satisfaction, continue this procedure a couple more times. Serve on a serving platter or bowl.
- If the wok is still very dry, add a little oil. The wok I used was already well-oiled, so I didn’t have to add any more. Add the garlic and heat for a few seconds before adding all of the vegetables back to the wok to finish cooking them all together. Add the Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, sugar, white pepper, and sesame oil to the wok. Mix and mash everything together thoroughly. On high heat, toss in cornstarch slurry and scallions, and cook for a further minute or two until the cornstarch has dissolved. Add salt to taste and stir a few times to coat the vegetables in the sauce.