Spicy Red Chili - Szechuan Style Eggplant & Shiitake Mushrooms

Spicy Red Chili - Szechuan Style Eggplant & Shiitake Mushrooms

YIELDS: 4 Servings PREP TIME: 20 mins COOK TIME: 25 mins  TOTAL TIME: 45 mins

1 ½ lbs Japanese eggplant - about (4) 10-inch eggplants
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
5 dried red chilies (add more for spicier)
1 ½ cups shiitake mushrooms
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Szechuan Sauce
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns (regular peppercorns work too)
¼ cup coconut aminos
1 tbsp garlic chili paste (or 1 tsp crushed red pepper)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or mirin
3 tbsp sugar or brown sugar
½ tsp Chinese five spice
Sliced green onions, for garnish
Sesame seeds or chopped peanuts, for garnish
Rice or rice noodles, for serving (I used black rice)
Tools 
Large skillet 
Small skillet 
Small bowl 

  1. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick half moon, place in a large bowl, cover with water, and stir in 2 tsp salt.
  2. Cover and let stand for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Heat the toasted sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the shiitake mushrooms and sauté until they begin to soften. Add a couple tablespoons of water and continue sautéing until softened and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and crush/finely chop.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the crushed peppercorns with the coconut aminos, garlic chili paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sugar, and Chinese five spice. Whisk until well combined and set by the stove.
  7. Drain the eggplant, pat dry with a towel, and toss with the corn starch.
  8. Working in two batches, heat 1-2 tablespoons sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the eggplant and spread them out into a single layer.
  9. Let one side of the eggplant brown then turn them over using tongs and brown the other side. This will take about 10 minutes per batch. (Be patient, you want the eggplant to be cooked through.)
  10. Set the eggplant aside and add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
  11. Add the dried chilies and continue sautéing for another minute. (Make sure your fan is turned on.)
  12. Pour the Szechuan sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer. Return the eggplant to the pan and toss gently for about 1 minute, until fully coated with sauce. If it seems dry, add a tablespoon or so of water to loosen.
  13. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds or chopped peanuts. Serve over rice or rice noodles. Enjoy!