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Yuxiang Qiezi 鱼香茄子 -- A Cultural Bridge


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Chris Two Times

abcdefg,

 

As a former man of the Southwest meself (five years in Chengdu, Sichuan), I love your posts: entertaining and highly informative.

 

Hear, hear for the yuxiang qiezi! That was a solid staple of many a Chengdu chomp-a-thon.

 

In some ways I miss the Southwest. I tell myself that I need to spend more time in Yunnan, and Chongqing and Guiyang will remain two of my favorite places in China.

 

Keep the tales from the great SW coming!

 

Warm regards,

Chris Two Times

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That's a wonderful and delicious write-up, though as you suggested restaurant-style yuxiang qiezi while tasty is really too oily at least for me to stomach: not so much the sauce, which can be left there, but the eggplant itself just seems to absorb every drop of oil in sight.

Maybe steaming produces a less oil-soaked eggplant?

鱼香藕片 is similar, but I like it better since I prefer the crisp lotus root to the soggy eggplant, and the lotus root doesn't absorb oil.

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I very much enjoyed reading your post. You set the scene wonderfully and I love the detailed recipe and all the little pictures. Now I'm  very hungry! 

 

Not sure I can produce anything remotely resembling your yuxiang qiezi here in Wales though.

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abcdefg

@Luxi -- #4 -- If you click on the photos they will enlarge. I always forget to mention that. Thanks for the reminder. I'll go back and insert a tip. Hard to see much when they are thumbnail sized.

 

Not sure I can produce anything remotely resembling your yuxiang qiezi here in Wales though.

 

If your city has a Chinese grocery, you can almost surely buy a jar of duobanjiang. That's the essential flavoring ingredient.

 

post-20301-0-14631500-1446336927_thumb.jpg

 

Mediterranean eggplants, rounder than Asian ones, work just as well, even though the taste is a little different. If they are young ones, it's best; there's no need to peel them. If they are older and bigger, peeling the skin helps texture and taste though it isn't essential.

 

Give it a try. Heck, you might become the Yuxiang Qiezi King of All Wales. 鱼香茄子王。 People will beat a path to your door.

 

@889 -- #3 -- Good point about using other vegetables with the same basic seasonings. I haven't tried lotus root, but it sounds very good. Agree with you about liking its crunch.

 

And you're right that pre-steaming the eggplant will cut down on the amount of oil needed. Reduces it by more than half. I steam it 5 minutes, until it's about half cooked, and then toss it in the hot wok with the other ingredients and seasonings. Stir it around for a couple of minutes, until the eggplant is soft when pierced with a fork. A very good method; the result is much less heavy.

 

#5 -- @Shelley -- I've watched "Taste of China" a couple of times. What a great video series. They surely have yuxiang qiezi, but I don't remember for sure. Maybe I can look again.

 

#2 -- @Chris --

Hear, hear for the yuxiang qiezi! That was a solid staple of many a Chengdu chomp-a-thon.

 

I love visiting Chengdu and eating delicious stuff until I burst at the seams. Wouldn't mind living there if I could be guaranteed a little more sunshine. Have become spoiled by Kunming's bright sun and blue skies.

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This is a great post, really bringing everything to life.

 

Luxi, you can make something similar in Wales - Fuchsia Dunlop, who did a chef's training course in Sichuan, calls the meatless version 'fish fragrant aubergine', and a Google search will show recipes for it, but not with all the details of abcdefg's write-ups, but you can read that at the same time. I've made it in Germany and the UK and it tasted great, even if it was probably a very inferior version.

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abcdefg

Thanks for pointing that out, @Zeppa.

 

Here's a Fuchsia Dunlop description of this dish:

 

This dish, almost more than any other, expresses for me the gorgeous layering of flavors that is the signature of Sichuanese cooking. Pickled chillies, either on their own or with fermented fava beans in the famous Sichuan chilli bean sauce, give the dish its warmth and luster; garlic, ginger and spring onions add a luxurious kick of flavor and a hint of sweet and sour serves to harmonize all the other tastes. The same sauce, minus the eggplant, can be poured over steamed or deep-fried seafood or chicken; while a similar combination of flavorings can be used to cook slivered pork, or as a dressing for cold, cooked peas or fava beans. They call this complex flavor “fish-fragrant” because it draws on the seasonings used in Sichuanese fish cooking, so it is supposed to recall to those who eat it the taste of fish.

 

(Excerpted from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuschia Dunlop. Text copyright © 2012 by Fuschia Dunlop and quoted by Andrew Zimmern here: http://andrewzimmern.com/2013/03/28/fuchsia-dunlops-fish-fragrant-eggplant/ )

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As an alternative to steaming, you could also microwave the eggplants at high temperature for two, three minutes to soften them. It works very well and is much easier than steaming. I learned it from someone on the 下厨房 recipe app (highly recommended, by the way).

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Shelley

I have also seen that program "taste of china" but wasn't thinking of it when I wrote my post, just seemed the right words, but yes it was good.

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abcdefg

@Gato -- I haven't tried microwaving the eggplant first, but that suggestion makes sense. Thanks, maybe next time I'll try it. One less pot to wash. I'm assuming you cut it up first.

 

@Shelley -- The "Bite of China" (舌尖上的中国 is the actual name; I had it wrong before) series has been released as a set of CD's. I've purchased a copy so I can watch it again from time to time. Two seasons have now been released. Problem is that the CD's are not indexed or easily searchable, at least the ones I have are not.

 

But I just now discovered a table of contents on Wikipedia. This will make the video easier to use.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bite_of_China#Season_1_2

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There used to be a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the town where I lived in Hebei that did an incredible Yuxiang Qietiao.  The eggplant chips were crispy on the outside with a gooey center, and covered in Yuxiang sauce.  It was amazing, and nowhere else I've seen the dish has been its equal.  We'd order it every time we went there (at least once a week).

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@Gato -- I haven't tried microwaving the eggplant first, but that suggestion makes sense. Thanks, maybe next time I'll try it. One less pot to wash. I'm assuming you cut it up first.

Yes, cut first before microwaving :)

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"There used to be a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the town where I lived in Hebei that did an incredible Yuxiang Qietiao.  The eggplant chips were crispy on the outside with a gooey center, and covered in Yuxiang sauce."

With a vegetable switch, that sounds like what I order as 鱼香藕夹: stuff lotus root slices with minced meat, dip in batter and fry, then cover with yuxiang sauce. Not a light summer dish by any means, but good for a cold winter day when you need to stuff yourself with something good and heavy.

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abcdefg

Every now and then I get grumpy about the Chinese internet, the constant construction and snarled traffic, or something else along those lines. It helps at those times to remember the abundance of delicious casual dishes such as those mentioned above by Imron and 889, cheap and readily available at the nearest hole-in-the-wall, family-owned café.

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