gong bao eggplant(宮保茄子—gōngbǎoqiézi)

Gong Bao(宮保), or Kung Pao, has become one of the signature dish preparations of Sichuan Province, China. Today it is known across the globe.

The dish is named for Ding Baozhen(丁寶楨), who was called Gong Bao(宮保) when he became governor of Sichuan Province in the nineteenth century. Ding brought his favorite dish from his hometown in Guizhou to share with guests: chicken with chilies. The dish was adapted to fit local tastes and ingredients and became kung pao chicken.

Nowadays, more foods than just chicken are cooked in Gong Bao style: eggplant, potato, mushroom, tofu, and various other vegetables can be used besides all sorts of meats. Eggplant makes a classic vegetarian adaptation.

Sichuan peppercorn, chilies, garlic, ginger, and a little sugar and lime pack Gong Bao eggplant with classic Sichuan flavor. A garnish of peanut and green onion completes the dish.

recipe

(serves 2)

2 tsp sichuan peppercorns, crushed
2 red chilies, crushed
1 tbsp sesame seed
4 clove garlic
2 tbsp ginger
½ onion, sliced
4 Chinese eggplant or Japanese eggplant, cut in four segments and sliced lengthwise, then marinated 10 minutes in salt water
1 cup oyster mushroom or other mushroom, sliced
½ cup water
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp jaggery
2 green onion, chopped
¼ cup peanut, roasted
¼ lemon juice

• saute sichuan peppercorn, chili, sesame seed, garlic, ginger, onion
• add eggplant, mushroom, water, salt, sugar
• cook and stir until softened and mixed, moisture mostly absorbed but not dry
• mix in green onion, peanut, lemon juice
• serve with rice