I first had this delicious dish at a Szechuan restaurant in Vancouver. It was baked in an earthenware hot pot and served sizzling and steaming. The dish consisted of perfectly cooked egg noodles (not too soft) baked with mince pork, eggplant and a mixture of spicy and flavoursome sauces. It was mouthwatering and a wonderful way to eat eggplant.
For this recipe, I tend to use the long, purple Chinese eggplants as they hold together better in the cooking process and draw in the complex mixture of flavours of this dish. Usually when cooking eggplants, you are told to 'degorge' them which means to extract their bitterness by covering them in salt for 20 minutes or so. I have never actually done this however I mostly use eggplant in Asian recipes so perhaps the strong flavours mask their bitterness.
The Szechuan Eggplant and Pork Mince Hot Pot perfectly balances the hot, sour, sweet and salty flavors and makes use of ginger, garlic and the key ingredient; chili bean paste. I use the Lee Kum Lee Brand. I also added a little roasted chili paste as well but this is optional. We like a bit of extra spice in this household.
The following recipe has a few steps to it but it is certainly worth the effort.
Szechuan Eggplant and Pork Mince Hot PotRecipe
2 Chinese eggplants cut lengthways (approx 4cm)
1 handful of coriander
4 cm piece of ginger grated
3 garlic cloves minced
300 gm ground pork
3 tbs peanut oil for frying
2 tbs chili beanpaste
1 tsp roasted chili paste (optional)
2 tbs Chinese rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs vegetable stock
2 tsp light soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbs corn starch
1 packet of medium sized egg noodles
1 hot pot with a cover
- Marinate the ground pork with the light soya sauce and 1 tbs of Chinese rice wine.
- Heat the oven up to 180 degrees.
- Heat up 2 tbs of peanut oil in a fry pan over medium heat, add the half the garlic and ginger. Fry for about a one minute. Stir constantly and make sure the garlic does not burn.
- Add 1 tbs of chili bean paste to pan and stir. Cook for a minute.
- Add the eggplant to the pan, stir, add 1 tbs of water and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to ensure the eggplant is coated with the ingredients.
- Once the eggplant is partially cooked, remove it from the pan and drain it on paper towels. Set aside.
- Boil some water in a pot and add the egg noodles. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the noodles and run under cold water. Set aside.
- Add the rest of the oil in the fry pan and fry the rest of the garlic and ginger for about a minute. Add Add the ground pork and cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through but not dry. Stir in 1 tsp of Naam Pla. Set aside.
- It is now time to prepare the sauce.
- In a bowl mix the constarch with about 1tbs of cold water. Add the remaining 1 tbs of chili bean paste and rice wine. Add the 1tsp of dark soya sauce, 1 tsp of Naam Pla and sugar. Add 1/4 cup of water. Stir well. Taste the sauce - you may need some more fish sauce depending on how salty you like it.
- We are almost there! Now add the noodles to the hot pot. Make a little well in the middle of the noodles and add the ground pork. Now spoon the eggplant on top then add the add the sauce. The last thing to do is to add the handful of coriander and sprinkle the sesame oil on top.
- Put the lid on firmly and pop the hot pot into the oven for 1/2 an hour. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.