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Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant with Garlic Sauce}

by Shirley

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Di San Xian {Stir Fried Egg Plant, Tomato and Green Pepper}

Di San Xian is a classic well-liked northern China vegan dish featuring stir-fried eggplant, tomato and green pepper. It is appetizingly delicious. Di San Xian {地三鲜} literally translates as “earth’s three deliciousness or freshness”, praising these three tasty and nutritious vegetables.

I use arrowroot flour, a healthier nutritious gluten-free wholesome root flour, as a starch substitute to coat the eggplant and in the velveting sauce. I also recommend using avocado oil as the deep frying oil. All these make this iconic yummy food incredibly healthy too.

Though most recipes typically use potatoes instead of tomatoes, I think tomato is a must-have. The sweet and sour flavor and taste, as well as the shining red hue that comes with the tomatoes, are the highlight of this satisfyingly yummy vegan dish. You can definitely add potatoes slices as the fourth key ingredient and make it “earth’s four deliciousness”, if you’d like.

Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Green Pepper, Chinese Classic}
Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Green Pepper, Chinese Classic}

What is Di San Xian?

It is a popular dish in northern China, featuring eggplant strips lightly deep fried first and then stir-fried together with tomato chunks and green pepper slices. The velveting appetizing sauce comes from naturally aged soy sauce (or dark soy sauce), light soy sauce, minced garlic, and sugar. We also use minced ginger and finely chopped green onion to stir-fry tomato and green pepper first before adding eggplant.

Like zucchini fritters Chinese style, this dish is one of my favorite summer delights. I make often during summer when I can source key ingredients directly from our backyard vegetable garden. For green peppers, I like the long green peppers. They have thinner skins, are super juicy and crunchy.

Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant with Tomatoes and Green Pepper}
Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant with Tomatoes and Green Pepper}

How to make Di San Xian easy, delicious, and healthy?

The first tip is to cut eggplant into strips and coat them with arrowroot flour

Di San Xian Ingredients

Arrowroot flour is my go-to nutritious gluten-free starch. You may substitute it with starch of your choice. Only need enough arrowroot flour to coat the eggplant.

Eggplant strips coated with arrowroot flour for Di San Xian

The second tip is to deep fry coated eggplant in avocado oil if possible

Avocado oil is one of the healthiest oil, which also has a much higher smoking point. This makes it perfect for deep frying. That avocado oil has extremely mild and neutral taste and smell makes it very versatile for all kinds of cooking and baking.

Turn the heat to medium and heat the wok for 1 minute. Pour in about 4 cups of avocado oil and heat for 5 minutes. Then add a small batch of coated eggplant strips at a time into the wok and fry for 2 minutes. Do not over-crowd the wok. Flip the eggplant halfway through using a stainless steel spider skimmer.

Deep Frying egg plant strips in avocado oil for Di San Xian
Deep Frying egg plant strips in avocado oil for Di San Xian

The arrowroot flour coating helps eggplant to absorb less oil and form a crispy outer layer. This is the key for a refreshingly tasty eggplant.

Freshly deep fried eggplant strips for making Chinese Di San Xian
Freshly deep fried eggplant strips for making Chinese Di San Xian

The third tip is to stir fry tomato and green pepper first to soften them

Turn the heat on medium-high, heat the pan for about 1 minute, and then add a tiny drop of oil. Do not add too much oil as the deep fried eggplant shall have plenty of oil for the entire dish.

Add minced ginger and finely chopped green onion, along with tomato chunks and green pepper slices, stir fry for about 3 minutes. Until tomato chunks become very soft and start to form some tomato paste.

Stir fry tomato and green pepper for making Di San Xian
Stir fry tomato and green pepper for making Di San Xian

The fourth tip is to wrap the stir-fry with Di San Xian Sauce

Naturally aged soy sauce, light soy sauce, turbinado sugar (also known as “Sugar In the Raw“), minced garlic and arrowroot flour make up the delicious velveting sauce.

Turbinado sugar, not only very healthy as being organic and unrefined, they also have larger crystals, a natural golden hue and lasting pleasant flavor and taste. They are my primary go-to sugar for cooking and baking.

Homemade sugar syrup for candied walnuts ingredients

The fifth tip is the proper ratio of eggplant, tomato and green peppers

Keep in mind that eggplant is the primary ingredient here. Tomato and green peppers are there to support eggplant.

It worth mentioning that tomato, while playing a vital role elevating the taste and look of the dish, the excess tomatoes may make the dish watery. This is because tomatoes contain a high level of water.

I leverage this fun fact about tomatoes when I make the super juicy and delicious vegetable beef soup. During initial beef simmering stage, I use no water but only tomatoes to simmer with beef. Read here for a guided recipe.

For 3 or 4 Chinese long eggplants that weight between 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs, 2 small tomatoes (about 10 oz), 3 long green peppers (about 13 oz) work well.

How to make Di San Xian {traditional Chinese stir fried eggplant with tomato and green pepper}
How to make Di San Xian {traditional Chinese stir fried eggplant with tomato and green pepper}
Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant, Tomato and Green Pepper, Chinese Classic}

Di San Xian {地三鲜 Stir Fried Eggplant with Garlic Sauce}

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Di San Xian {地三鲜} is a classic well-liked northern China food featuring stir-fried eggplant, tomato and green pepper. It is appetizingly delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 Chinese long eggplants, about 1 - 1.5 lb
  • 2 long green peppers, about 13 oz.
  • 2 small tomatoes, about 10 oz.

For Deep Frying Egg Plant

  • 2 tbsp. arrowroot flour
  • 4 cups avocado oil

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. naturally aged soy sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sugar, turbinado sugar ("sugar in the raw) or organic cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp water

For the Stir Frying:

  • 1/4 tsp canola oil
  • 10 g ginger, about 10 slices, minced
  • 1 green onion stalk, chopped

Instructions

Prep Work:

  1. Wash and rinse eggplants, tomatoes and green pepper.
  1. Cut eggplant into strips, tomatoes into bite size chunks and green peppers bite size slices.
  2. Chop green onion into small pieces. Mince ginger and garlic. I often use a compact food processor to help mince garlic.
    Minced Garlic Using a Compact Food Processor
  3. Add everything under "For the Sauce" into a small bowl and mix well.
    Ingredients for Di San Xian {Stir Fried eggplant with garlic sauce)

Deep Fry Eggplant:

  1. Add eggplant strips into a large mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp arrowroot flour, mix well using a pair of wooden spatulas, same way as you would mix a salad.
    Eggplant strips coated with arrowroot flour
  2. Turn the heat to medium and heat a wok for 1 minute.
  3. Add 4 cups of avocado oil into the wok and cook for about 5 minutes, or till small bubbles start to form, and the temperature is above 150 Celsius (302 Fahrenheit}.
  4. Carefully add a small batch of coated eggplant strips into the wok, just enough to cover the surface but not overcrowd the wok. Use a stainless steel skimmer to gently shake the eggplant to separate them.
  5. Fry for 2 minutes, flip the eggplant half way through for even cooking.
    Deep Frying eggplant strips in avocado oil
  6. Remove the eggplant from the wok using the stainless steel skimmer and place onto a plate.
  7. Repeat the above until all eggplant is done.
    Freshly fried eggplant strips
  8. Turn off the heat, cover the wok with a lid to avoid water splashing into the wok and let the oil cool down. Store the oil in a glass jar once they are cooled to room temperature. You can re-use them for other deep frying.

Stir Fry:

  1. Turn the heat to medium-high, heat a deep round frying pan for 1 minute.
  2. Add a tiny drop of oil, and then the minced ginger and chopped green onion, along with tomato chunks and green pepper slices.
  3. Mix, fold and flip using a slotted turner for about 3 minutes, until green peppers are wilted, tomatoes are softened and start to form a tomato paste.
    Stir fry tomato and green pepper for making Di San Xian
  4. Add the deep fried eggplant to the pan, mix and fold for about 15 seconds.
    Cooking Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant with garlic sauce}
  5. Quickly remix the sauce and pour into the pan in a circular motion. Use a mini silicone spatula to scrape the bowl or simply use the vegetables in the pan to scrape the bowl.
    Cooking Di San Xian {stir fried eggplant), add sauce to the pan
  6. Immediately mix and fold non-stop for about 15 seconds using a slotted turner until the sauce thickens.
    Freshly cooked Di San Xian {Stir Fried Eggplant with green pepper and tomato} in a pan
  7. All done! Enjoy an appetizingly yummy Di San Xian!
    Di San Xian {Stir fried Eggplant with Garlic Sauce}

Notes

  • Keep in mind that eggplant is the primary ingredient here. Tomato and green peppers are there to support eggplant.
  • For 2 Chinese long eggplants, 2 small tomatoes (about 10 oz.) or 1 large tomato, 3 long green peppers (about 13 oz.) work well.
  • If you like to add potatoes, then peel and cut potatoes into thick slices, and deep fry for 3 minutes first. Follow similar rules of thumb as you deep fry eggplants, small batch at a time.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1535mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gSugar: 13gProtein: 4g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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