3 Chinese or 5 Japanese eggplants cut along the bias into 2" pieces
2 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. hot bean paste (2 tbsp. if adding pork)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
6 scallions, chopped
1 red jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
1-2 green jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
2-3 tsp. sugar (use 3 tsp. if adding pork)
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1-2 tbsp. Chinking or Black vinegar, according to taste
1/4tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 tbsp. cornstarch + 1 tbsp. water (cornstarch slurry)
1/2 cup Thai, Taiwanese or sweet basil leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
1. Place the eggplant sliced into a colander and sprinkle with 2 tsp. of salt. Toss well and let sit for 1 hour.
2. Squeeze the eggplant as dry as possible with your hands, than blot any excess moisture off with paper towels.
3. Heat 1 cup of vegetable over high heat in a sauté pan. Saute the eggplant 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove eggplant with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
4. Pour out all but 1 tbsp. of oil from the pan and return to the heat. Add hot bean paste and stir fry for several seconds until fragrant.
5. Add the ginger, garlic, green & red chile peppers, and half of the scallions. Saute for about 10 seconds, the add the sugar and chicken stock. Bring up to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes.
6. Add the eggplants and bring up to a boil again. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook briefly until the sauce has thickened. Stir in vinegar and ground Szechuan peppercorns. Stir in the basil leaves, if desired.
7. Remove from heat and pour the eggplant mixture onto a serving platter. Top with the remaining chopped scallions and serve with steamed white rice.