As part of my university degree I spent about a year and a half studying at a language institute in Dalian, a coastal city in Northeast China, where I soon discovered the wonders of Northern Chinese cuisine, and became promptly addicted.
In the space of two months I had gobbled my way two sizes larger, mostly due to this little baby 地三鲜 (Di San Xian). Literally ‘earth three fresh’ it's a wonderful mix of potatoes, eggplant and green pepper. The embodiment of all things good about Northern Chinese food, it’s deliciously oily and loaded with garlic. You won't find this at your local Chinese takeaway.
Northern Style Potato, Eggplant and Peppers 地三鲜
Ingredients (for one large plate):
1 large eggplant
2 medium potatoes
1 green bell pepper
2 spring onions
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup vege stock
Peel the potato and eggplant, and, along with the pepper, cut into rough chunks.
Heat a good bit of oil in a wok and deep fry the potatoes until lightly browned, followed by the pepper.
Coat the eggplant in corn flour (this gives it a crunchier texture when deep frying) and deep fry until just browned.
Discard most of the oil used for deep frying (I tip it in a jar to use for a different dish) and, using a little of the remainder, fry the garlic and spring onions for a few seconds, before adding the stock.
Into the stock, add the soy sauce, sugar, salt and finally the deep-fried vege and stir.
Mix a few tablespoons of water with a teaspoon of corn starch and add a few teaspoons of this mixture to the wok and fry until it all starts to come together.
Plate up and serve with rice.
Notes: Depending on what kind of stock you use, you may not need a full teaspoon of salt. I often add just half at the start and taste an eggplant before adding in the starch, just to see if I need to add a wee pinch more.