Simple and tasty dish that requires just a couple of particular ingredients – black vinegar and Sichuan fermented chile-bean paste. The latter, properly called doubanjiang, is a bit of a holy grail item among food obsessives. It is an umami-rich mix of fermented broad beans, chiles, salt and wheat flour, and the best is said to come from Pixian. I’m just getting familiar with the stuff – I brought back a couple of different types from New York awhile ago – and I’ll put up a post later on after I make some of the signature dishes – ma po tofu and dan dan noodles.

But given how delicious this eggplant-tofu dish was, it will certainly be added to the repertoire here. Steaming the eggplant and dry frying the pressed tofu allows everything to come together quickly without any concern about the eggplant being too mushy or the final dish being too oily – definitely recommend.