Sichuan (the pronunciation still evades me) pretty much translates into spicy as all hell! In all actuality, Sichuan is a province of Southwest China with hot to trot cuisine that could very well burn your face off. If you likey the spicy like me, then your mouth must already be watering. Originally I wasn’t planning on making a post about this. But after preparing and portioning it for a client (trying to sneakily ease her into eating more vegan dishes mwahahah) it was just so good that I had to share! This dish is fantastic either hot or cold. I always appreciate a dish that I can just grab from the fridge and mow down on while I’m on the go; no preparation involved!
Well alright! Let’s do this! First off, we want to roast the eggplant. Set the oven to 425 so it can heat up while you prep! (Duh, I don’t need to tell you this. You’re experts by now.) If you desire, you can take the proper precautions by salting the eggplant and allowing it to sit, releasing the extra water. I didn’t do this. I’m impatient. And I think it came out just fine. But if you prefer a firmer eggplant, salt it like a slug. (Then pat it dry before continuing to cook it.) Whether or not you choose to salt it, you need to cut it into slabs first. Toss the slabs with some oil, salt and pepper, and lay them out on a lined baking sheet. Pop them in the oven and roast them off until they start to turn a golden brown, about 30 minutes.
While that’s all going on, we’re going to cook off the soba noodles. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and dump in the noodles. They cook pretty quickly, they only need about 3-5 minutes to become tender. Strain the noodles and toss them under cold water to wash off the excess starch and avoid sticking. You can come back to these and heat them before serving if you wish.
The next order of business is the veggies! You have free range here. My client has a very limited diet, so I was able to include various bell peppers and shiitake mushrooms. I would love to throw some broccoli and snap peas in there but it just wasn’t in the cards! Anyway, heat up some vegetable oil in a pan. I like to throw a touch of sesame oil in there as well to give it that little something extra. Add the mushrooms first, and quickly toss them in the pan until they start to get crispy. Add the peppers and sauté them until they are tender-crisp. Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.
At this point the eggplant should be done. Remove it from the oven to cool, and cut it into thin strips. Set it aside, it’s time will come.
Saving the best for last, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the sauce. Before we start, gather up your ingredients. This is all going to happen so fast, so you want to be prepared! Grab some garlic, shallots, red chili sauce (nothing beats sriracha), soy sauce, white vinegar, corn starch, black pepper, and water. Add a few drops of sesame oil to a wide pan, and sauté the garlic and shallots. When they start to become fragrant, add the chili sauce and sauté a bit more. Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour the mixture into the pan. When the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat and stir in the eggplant. If you wish, add the veggies, and keep them on the side and add them as an accompaniment or garnish.
Speaking of garnish, chop up some fresh cilantro, it’s going to brighten everything up and give it that BANG that you aspire for when cooking some bomb food. It’s almost time to eat, so it’s time to build your plate. Starting with the noodles, add a nice heap, they’ll be your only real savior from the heat. The top that with some of the eggplant mixture, then the veggies, then the cilantro.
It’s chow time!
Sichuan Eggplant with Soba Noodles
2 bell peppers
8 oz. Asian mushrooms (shiitake, oyster)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sriracha
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch
1 cup water
1 package soba noodles
- Preheat the oven to 475 F.
- Cut the eggplant into slabs. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper and lay out on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet and slice into chunks. Set aside for later.
- Boil some salted water and cook the soba noodles for 3-5 minutes, until they start to get tender. Strain and rinse with water to prevent sticking.
- Add a few drops of sesame oil to a large sauce pan. Chop up the mushrooms and throw them in. Saute until they start to get crispy.
- Slice up the bell peppers and add them to the mix! Cook them until tender-crisp.
- Remove them from the pan, and set aside.
- Mince the garlic and chop the shallots. Add a little more oil to the pan and add your aromatics.
- Once they become fragrant, add the chili sauce.
- Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour into the pan.
- Cook over high heat until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add the eggplant and mushroom/pepper mixture.
- Serve over soba noodles, garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.