Fish-Fragrant Squash

Posted on August 28, 2012 by the farm crew
Fish-Fragrant Squash
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

One of my FAVORITE Chinese recipes that can use SQUASH or EGGPLANT. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s only called “fish-fragrant” because the sauce is the same flavorful base commonly used on fish in the Sichuan province of China. Enjoy!
  • 700 g squash or eggplant
  • salt
  • groundnut or corn oil for deep-frying
  • 1½ Tablespoons chili bean paste, Sichuanese preferred but not required
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 150 ml chicken stock mixed with hot water (approx. 1 Tblspn stock, ¾ cups hot water)
  • 1½ teaspoons white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon light soy sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon potato flour, mixed with 1 Tablespoon cold water
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinkiang or Chinese black vinegar, or any black vinegar
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, sliced into fine rings
  • 1 teaspoon seasame oil (optional)

  1. Cut squash or eggplant into even pieces, no bigger than 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons of salt and leave for at least 30 minutes to draw out the bitter juices.
  2. In your wok or sauce pan, heat oil for deep-frying till the oil is just beginning to smoke (~180-200 degrees Celsius, 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit). Add the squash in batches and deep-fry for ~3-4 minutes until slightly golden and soft and buttery on the inside. SEE NOTE BELOW!
  3. Remove and drain on paper bags or paper towels.
  4. Drain off the deep-frying oil, rinse the pan if necessary, and then return to high heat with 2-3 Tablespoons of oil.
  5. Add the chili bean past and stir-fry for about 20 seconds until the oil is red and fragrant; then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir-fry for another 20-30 seconds until they are fragrant. Take care not to burn the flavorings – remove the pan from the heat for a few seconds or turn down the heat if needed.
  6. Add the stock, sugar, and soy sauce and mix well. Season with salt to taste if necesary.
  7. Add the fried squash/eggplant to the sauce and let them simmer gently for a few minutes to absorb some of the flavors. Then sprinkle the potato mixture over the squash/eggplant and stir in gently to thicken the sauce. Next, stir in the vinegar and scallions and leave for a few seconds until the onions have lost their rawness.
  8. Finally, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the sesame oil (optional) and serve.

Cooking times for the different squash and eggplants can vary quite a bit. I’ve seen everything from 2-3 minutes for pattypan squash and 6-7 for eggplant. Just keep an eye on it and you’ll be fine. This dish pairs like it a dream with chicken, other veggies, and steak. I usually serve it over a bed of rice, but it can stand on it’s own.