A bowl of Schezwan Eggplant and Shishito Peppers Stir-fry on a bed of Basmati rice is pretty much as good as life can get.
As much as I’ve enjoyed spicy foods all my life, I’d never been a big fan of eating peppers. Growing up by the sea, among the myriad of delectable foods on offer when you go to the beach, is a banana pepper fritter, that’s dipped in a chickpea flour batter and deep-fried. While almost everyone unanimously agreed that it was the best of the fritter assortment (they also did fritters with onion, potato, green banana, eggplant, etc), it was the one I avoided like the plague. The eggplant was my favorite. Even as a kid, I was an eggplant fiend. Cannot get enough. Ironically, I was still an anemic kid.
Fast forward to the 30s and suddenly, I’m on a pepper frenzy. Can’t get enough of them. Maybe I’m making up for the lost years.
Never ceases to fascinate me how we acquire tastes for new foods throughout our lives. It means, we should never give up or write off anything. My love of eggplants never changed though. Still an eggplant fiend.
So last week, at the grocery store, I spotted these Shishito peppers, even though they’re oddly not exactly in season. But they looked great, so I couldn’t resist grabbing a bag immediately.
My first taste of Shishito peppers came from a Blue Apron meal a few years ago. This recipe is inspired by that one – an eggplant and shishito pepper stir-fry – but I’ve since put my own spin on the sauce.
This is one of my favorite lunches, and it comes together so quickly. Even though the recipe below serves two, I almost always double it, so we can stretch it to two lunches instead of just one.
I also like my eggplants cooked down till they’re extremely soft, almost molten, but if you prefer them to have a bit of a bite, be sure to remove them from heat before they over-cook.
Another thing I do, is de-seed the Shishito pepper. I know, it’s super weird, and almost unnecessary (only 1 in 10 Shishito peppers are hot, but spicy green peppers give me a heartburn and I’d rather not risk it). If you don’t have the problem, then the prep time is even shorter for you. Yaay!
Once the vegetables are blistered, you add the sauces, water and thicken it with cornstarch slurry and cook until it thickens to a luscious gravy. Top your bowl of fluffy basmati rice, garnish with roasted cashews and spring onion greens, and serve with a side of cucumbers. The refreshing, crunchy, juicy burst of the cucumbers against the spicy, molten creaminess of the stir-fry is simply to die for.
This is a lunch you won’t soon forget. And it will be on repeat, I am sure.
When you make this Schezwan Eggplant and Shishito Peppers Stir-fry (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!
- 7.5 oz/216 g (1/2 medium) Italian eggplant
- 3.8 oz/110 g (1/2 package) Shishito Peppers
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1/4 c roasted cashews, split in half (optional)
- 1 spring onion
- 2 tbsp Indian sesame oil
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp green chilli sauce
- 1 tsp sriracha
- 2 tbsp schezwan sauce (see notes)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp cornstarch + 1 tsp water
- 1/4 c water
- a pinch of sugar
- Salt, to taste *
- Cut the eggplant in 1-1.5" cubes. Place in a bowl, sprinkle salt, stir and let sit. This will draw out the juices and make it less bitter.
- In the meantime, wash the shishito peppers. You can stop here, or if you're like me, go ahead and remove the stem, slice in half and remove the seeds. See notes below.
- Mince the ginger. Normally, I grate my ginger coz it's faster, but mincing gives so much more texture and flavor in stir-frys.
- Separate the green and white parts of the spring onion. Slice the green part finely. Slice the white part diagonally in 1/4" thick slices. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine all the sauces (soy, chilli, schezwan, sriracha, tomato paste). Set aside.
- In another bowl. make a slurry of cornstarch and water. Set aside.
- Transfer the salted eggplant into a colander and rinse under tap water. Let drain.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide skillet (10"). You want the skillet to be wide enough to fit the vegetables in a single layer, so they roast without getting soggy.
- Add the Shishito peppers and let blister on high heat. Transfer the peppers to a bowl. Set aside.
- In the same skillet, add another 1 tbsp oil, and add the rinsed+drained eggplant and minced ginger. Saute on high heat until it begins to cook. I like my eggplant soft rather than crunchy, so I cover mine and let it cook well.
- Add the sliced spring onion (white part), the sauces, a pinch of sugar, and the blistered shishito peppers. Stir well.
- Once the sauces have cooked for a few seconds, add the water, and the cornstarch slurry. Stir until the sauce thickens.
- Add salt. Remember, the sauces might be salted, so first taste and then add salt accordingly.
- Remove from heat, divide between two bowls of rice. Garnish with the roasted cashews and sliced spring onion greens. Serve immediately, piping hot.
- I make my own schezwan sauce but in a pinch, love this store-bought one.
- The sauces listed in the recipe (dark soy, green chilli, schezwan) are all available (for so much cheaper) in Indian stores like Patel Brothers.
- 1 in 10 Shishito peppers are hot, the rest are perfectly mild to be consumed seed and all. But I get a nasty heartburn when I eat too much hot green peppers, so prefer to de-seed shishito peppers as a personal preference.
- If you don't have roasted cashews in hand, you could fry raw cashews in the oil right before the shishito peppers are roasted. Drain cashews, set side, and continue with the peppers.
- Although best eaten immediately when cooked, you can double the recipe and refrigerate leftovers for lunch the next day.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 21419 Total Fat: 141g Saturated Fat: 27g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 70g Cholesterol: 1mg Sodium: 992mg Carbohydrates: 5340g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1529g Sugar: 1957g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 508g