Monday, May 22, 2006

eggplant fritters with huajiao-dip

Chinese snack time: eggplant fritters with huajiao-dip. Huajiao ??, usually called " Sichuan pepper" or "Szechuan pepper", are the fragrant, almost hallucinating husks and berries of the huajiao shrub, which grows in the hills of Sichuan province of China.

Although you can buy several brands here in Europe, I got a bag of the stuff, imported from China by a friend, and they turned out to be very aromatic indeed! I think their intense flavor spoiled all the things in her suitcase, impregnating it with its strong smell. To use Sichuan pepper, roast two tablespoons of huajiao in a dry pan, when they start to give off their flavor, take off the heat and let cool. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and grind them into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Cut a small eggplant into slices and make a batter of 1 egg and some tablespoons of corn flour. Mix until you have a smooth paste, in the beginning it looks very lumpy, but this will smooth out. Dip the slices of eggplant into the batter and shake off excess batter, then slip into hot oil (a wok is fine). Fry in not so hot oil until brown; drain on kitchen paper. Serve with the Sichuan-pepper-dip, it will be sharp, tingling and numb-making , but oh so good!!!

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