Greg DuPree
Active Time
35 MIN
Total Time
45 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4

This dish is a specialty of shaokao, or barbecue, cooks in China’s Yunnan province, and it leans on a fragrant spice mixture that includes dried chiles; Szechuan peppercorns; and the piny, fragrant black cardamom that is so important in central Yunnan cooking. Use a seedless Japanese eggplant; Italian varieties are generally too bitter and may have too many hard seeds.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Preheat a grill to very high (500°F). Using a fork, prick eggplants all over. Place eggplants on oiled grates; grill, covered, turning occasionally, until skin is slightly charred and flesh is creamy and pulling away from skin, 15 to 20 minutes. Gently transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and let cool 10 minutes.

Step 2    

Heat a small skillet over medium. Add Szechuan peppercorns and cumin seeds; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder; add white peppercorns and cardamom seeds. Pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl, and stir in gochugaru, 4 teaspoons salt, and 13-spice powder until combined.

Step 3    

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high until just smoking. Add dried chiles; cook 5 seconds. Add ground pork and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, breaking pork up with a spoon, until just cooked through and some bits of meat have begun to brown, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Add scallions and fresh chiles, if using; cook, stirring constantly, until scallions are slightly wilted, about 15 seconds. Remove from heat, and stir in 2 teaspoons reserved spice mixture. (Reserve remaining spice mixture for another use.)

Step 4    

Place each roasted eggplant on its side. Slice into (but not through) each eggplant lengthwise, opening like a baked potato, making sure to leave shell of eggplant intact. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut up flesh of eggplants. Stir 1/4 teaspoon salt into the flesh of each eggplant. (Be careful not to loosen or incorporate the charred eggplant skin.) Spoon 2/3 cup pork mixture into each eggplant. Stir together eggplant flesh and pork mixture. Serve stuffed eggplants family style.

Make Ahead

Spice mixture can be made and stored in an airtight container up to 3 days in advance.

Suggested Pairing

Earthy, lightly off-dry Pét-Nat

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