1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns*
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
3 dried long red chillies, cut into small pieces (or left whole for a milder experience)
300g (10.5 oz) pork mince
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar*
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp white sugar
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)*
1 large eggplant (about 500g), cut into large chunks
1 tsp corn flour (cornstarch) mixed with 1 tsp water
½ cup finely sliced spring onion (scallions)
Toast the Sichuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about a minute or until fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to grind to a fine powder. Set aside for later.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and stir-fry for half a minute. Add the pork and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Then mix through the Sichuan peppercorn powder. Now add the soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, sugar, chicken stock and Shaoxing wine. Combine and bring back to a simmer. Add the eggplant and toss to coat. Cover with a lid, turn the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes (be sure to check halfway through the cooking time to make sure there’s adequate liquid in the pan. If the mix looks too dry, add a ¼ cup of water).
Remove the lid and stir through the corn flour mixture. Stir for a couple of seconds or until the sauce is thick and glossy. Sprinkle over the spring onion and serve.
*Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine, Chinese black vinegar and Sichuan peppercorns can be found in the Asian section at some supermarkets or from an Asian grocer. Substitute white vinegar if Chinese black vinegar is not available.