Yu Xiang Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

1 1/2 pounds Asian eggplant (about 3 large ones), peeled or unpeeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 cup peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
2 teaspoons Zhenjiang black vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon roasted ground Sichuan pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chili bean paste (douban jiang)
5 to 6 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with 4 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat a dry wok until quite hot, add oil and heat until a test bit of eggplant sizzles when it hits the oil. If you are using Asian eggplant there is no need to salt the eggplant to reduce bitterness, simply add it to the wok and fry until lightly golden, in about three batches. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Mix the soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar, sugar, Sichuan pepper and chicken broth together in a measuring cup as the seasoning liquid.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil and reheat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry briefly, then add the chili bean paste and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the seasoning liquid, give a stir, then add the eggplant back to the wok.

Cook the eggplant briefly, then add the green onions and cook until the liquid starts to disappear. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until sauce thickens. Add sesame oil and remove to platter.

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