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Mapo Eggplant Noodles ft. Dried Knife-Cut Noodles

The Mala Market
Author: Kathy Yuan | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking


  • 2 whole Chinese eggplants (2 large or 3 small)
  • 1 serving dried knife-cut noodles, per person approx. 75 grams
  • 3-4 ounces minced beef or pork if using pre-ground, give it a mince before frying!
  • splash Shaoxing wine or other liaojiu (rice cooking wine)
  • cups good stock of choice, hot
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons stock
  • 2 tablespoons caiziyou (Chinese roasted rapeseed oil)
  • 1 tablespoon pork lard
  • 1 tablespoon 1-year aged red oil doubanjiang (Pixian Juan Cheng preferred), minced
  • 1 tablespoon 3-year aged doubanjiang (Pixian Yi Feng He Hao preferred), minced
  • ½ tablespoon ground chilies
  • 1 teaspoon douchi (fermented black soybeans)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (2 large or 3 small)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 3-4 whole scallions (or garlic greens if available), thinly sliced, or chopped in 2 cm lengths
  • ¼ teaspoon ground huajiao (Sichuan pepper) see note, for garnish, more or less to taste—more if not fresh


  • Wash and dry the eggplants. To chop eggplants for stir-frying, we use the traditional "gǔndāo," roll-cut, method (see post for photos). Arrange the chopped eggplants skin-side up in a large bowl and cover with a microwave-safe lid or plate. Microwave on high 3 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the skin.
  • Boil a pot of water for the noodles and cook according to package instructions while starting the next step. Have personal serving bowls ready to transfer the cooked noodles into so they don't overcook, and set aside.
  • Heat a wok over medium heat and bring the caiziyou and lard to (just) smoking. If not using caiziyou, skip the smoking step and heat the oil until shimmering. 
    Add the minced pork and immediately break up the mince with a spatula so all the little pieces get a good sear. Add a small splash of liaojiu and stir-fry the mince by pushing the pork around with the spatula, so everything "mixes" but the mince never comes out of the oil. Slowly allow the moisture to fry out of the minced pork, at least a minute, until the oil turns clear. At this point the mince should be frying and getting crispy on the edges.
    Lower the heat a bit. Add the minced doubanjiang and ground chilies and stir-fry until fragrant and the oil turns red. Add the minced garlic, ginger and douchi. Fry slowly and gently until fragrant (this may take a minute), then add HOT stock.
    Bring to a boil over medium heat. Slide the eggplant down the sides of the wok and push the eggplant around to mix, minimizing exposure above the liquid to preserve the color. Turn the heat down again and simmer gently a couple minutes to meld the sauce.
  • Give the cornstarch slurry another mix until it becomes smooth again. Pour in ⅓ of the mixture, push to mix, add another ⅓ of the slurry, push to mix again, and pour in the last ⅓ of the cornstarch, pushing constantly.
    Add the chopped scallions or garlic greens and mix one last time. Turn off the heat. Top the assembled noodle bowls with the mapo eggplant. Garnish with the ground huajiao on top. Enjoy!


GROUND HUAJIAO (Sichuan pepper):
Toast whole huajiao in a dry skillet until pods start to smell very fragrant, but do not brown them. Let peppercorns cool, then grind in a spice grinder or in a mortar + pestle to your desired coarseness. Sichuan pepper powder will retain its potent flavor and numbing punch for only a few weeks.