Eating out was not something that would happen very often during my childhood. It was more like a special occasion thing. I don’t remember the first time I was taken to a restaurant, but I do remember eating Di San Xian, this not-so-fancy-looking dish, and remember I loved it from the very first time.
Di San Xian is a vegetable dish from northeast China. “Di” means ground, “San” means three, and “Xian” means something fresh and tasty. The main ingredients for the dish are potato, eggplant and green pepper.
I like things that are made from simple everyday ingredients but with a special attention to how the different ingredients compliment each other. The moist eggplants balance out the starchiness of potatoes, and the slightly spicy and crunchy green peppers add some kick to the soft and gentle texture of eggplant and potato. In the end, the thick sauce that simply seasoned with garlic and soy sauce is what unites and brings all the flavors to a new level.
- 1-2 Chinese eggplants (the thin and long ones)
- 1 medium potato
- 1-2 green peppers
- 1 carrot (optional)
- 1 tbs Chopped garlic
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs starch
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- Eggplants, potatoes and green peppers cut into bite-sized chunks.
- Place potato chunks in cold water for about 15 minutes to remove starch on the surface.
- Remove the potato chunks from the water and remove excess water.
- Heat vegetable oil to 350 F(175 C)
- Fry the potato chunks, eggplants and green peppers separately. (Potato takes longer to heat through; green peppers only need a few seconds; eggplants should be in between. Remove eggplants from the oil a few seconds after the color turns vibrant.)
- Add oil in a heated wok, stir-fry chopped garlic over medium heat until aroma.
- Add sliced carrots into the wok, saute until the color turns vibrant.
- Add the potato chunks, saute until slightly brown.
- Add eggplants and green peppers, season with 2 tbs of soy sauce and salt & pepper.
- Mix 1 tbs starch with 3-4 tbs water. Pour the mixture over the wok, mix well to get the rich coating.