1. Szechuan Hot-Fried Crispy Shredded Beef
  2. Deep-Fried Aubergine Cake
  3. Bean Curd and Prawn Soup

Many Szechuan dishes have a more "chewy" texture than elsewhere in China - this is achieved by frying or stir-frying food until it is quite dry and even crusty, then tossing it in a suace. The flavour is highly concentrated when food is cooked in this way. Multiple flavourings are also an inportant element, as in the beef dish, so it is quite usual to find garlic, chillis, sugar, vingar, etc. all in one dish. Serve this meal with rice. the stuffed aubergines make ideal "finger food" and could be served as a starter, with a dip of mixed salt and crushed Szechuan peppercorns. Menu serves 4-6.

1. zechuan Hot-Fried Crispy Shredded Beef ()
    4 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    100 g (4 oz) cornflour
    450 g (1 lb) topside of beef, cut into matchstick strips
    600 ml(1 pint) vegetable oil
    3 medium carrots, scraped and cut into matchstick strips
    2 spring onions, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) sections
    2 chilis, shredded
    3 garlic cloves, crushed
    6 teaspoons sugar
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    4 tablespoons wine vinegar

    Preparation time: 20 minutes
    Cooking time: 10 minutes

1. Mix together the eggs, salt and cornflour and toss the beef in this until well coated. Heat the oil in a work to 180 degree C or 350 degree F, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds, and stir-fry the beef for 1 1/2 minutes or until crispy. remove and drain on paper towels.

2. Reheat the oil and deep-fry the carrots for 1 1/2 minutes. REmove and drain on paper towels.

3. Pour off most of the oil, leaving about 1 1/2 tablespoons in the bottom of the wok. Reheat, then add the spring onions, chillis and garlic. Stir-fry together for about 30 seconds over the heat then add the sugar , soy sauce and vinegar. Return the meat and carrots to the sauce. toss over the heat and serve.

2. Deep-Fried Aubergine Cake ()
    3 aubergines, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) thick slices
    75 g (3 oz) minced pork
    25 g (1 oz) dried shrimps, soaked for 20 minutes,drained and finely chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 spring onions, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 tablespoon shredded root ginger
    125 g (5 oz) plain flour
    50 g (2 oz) cornflour
    1 egg, beaten
    2 tablespoons water
    600 ml (1 pint) vegetable oil

    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Cooking time: 5 minutes

1. Cut a slit in each aubergine slice, deep enough for the stuffing.

2. Mix together the minced pork, shrimps, salt, spring onion, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Beat well together and stuff each aubergine slice with 1/2 teaspoon of filling.

3. Dust each slice with plain flour, then mix the remaining flour with the cornflour, egg and water to form a batter. Coat each slice well.

4. Heat the oil in a wok to 180 degree C or 350 degree F, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds, and deep-fry each slice until bright yellow. Drain well.

3. Bean Curd and Prawn Soup ()
    50 g (2 oz) peeled prawns
    1 egg white
    600 ml (1 pint) chicken stock
    50 g (2 oz) cooked ham, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) cubes
    1 cake bean curd, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) cubes
    50 g (2 oz) peas
    1 tablespoon soy sauce 25 g (1 oz) Szechuan pickle, chooped
    1 tablespoon cornflour
    1 tablespoon water
    freshly ground black pepper

    Preparation time: 10 minutes
    Cooking time: 3 minutes

1. Mix the peeled prawns with the egg white.

2. Bring the stock to the boil, put in the ham, bean curd and peas. when it comes back to the boil, add the soy sauce, pickle and prawns, and let the soup boil for 15-20 seconds.

3. Blend the cornflour with the water and add to the soup, stirring constantly. Allow to thicken, then add salt and pepper to test before serving.

<>   Xiaoniu SuChu Hsu (p) 1998    suchu@techart.nia.edu.tw