Stir Fried Potato, Aubergine and Peppers (Di San Xian)
I first tried Di San Xian (The Three Treasures of the Earth) in Xi’an, China. Find out how you can make it at home by following the recipe below.
When people think of Chinese food, meat heavy dishes like sweet and sour pork, beef in black bean sauce, and lemon chicken are often the first that come to mind. But, those dishes served up by our local Chinese take-away aren’t always the most authentic. In fact, fresh vegetables are a hugely important part of Chinese cuisine.
Before I went to China I was definitely guilty of thinking vegetarian food would be hard to come by. But it turns out there are a fair few dishes that are vegetarian or even vegan! Di San Xian (which translates to “The Three Treasures of the Earth” being one.
The Three Treasures are: potato, aubergine and bell peppers. They get their name because they are three of the most common vegetables that you will find in the markets in China.
It’s a really simple dish that doesn’t require too many specialist ingredients. For the sauce you’ll need Shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce, cornflour, water, garlic and spring onions. (Not an animal product in sight, which is ideal for all of you who are following a plant based diet).
Turn up the heat
Like most Chinese recipes you’re going to want to cook this recipe hard and fast over a high heat. A wok isn’t essential, you can easily make this in a frying pan, but if you do invest in a wok make sure it’s a good quality carbon steel wok. The potato, peppers and aubergine are all fried before the stir fry sauce is added right at the end of cooking.
I know a lot of people are wary of frying aubergine because it soaks up all of the oil and can get a little slimy as a result. Although not the most “authentic” ways of cooking this dish, I avoid this by frying the potatoes on their own before adding the peppers and then the aubergine at the end, just long enough for them to cook before finally adding the stir fry sauce.
The technique of frying the vegetables is known as “walking the oil”. You should keep them moving in the pan to avoid them sticking as the edges of your wok are going to be H-O-T!
Stir fried potato, aubergine and peppers
- 4 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 large potato peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
- 0.5 green pepper cut into bite sized pieces
- 0.5 red pepper cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium aubergine cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 spring onions sliced
- 2 tsp minced garlic roughly 3-4 cloves
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 4 tbsp light soy sauce
- 8 tbsp water optional
- 1 tbsp cornflour optional
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok.
- When the wok is piping hot, add in the potato and fry for 8-10 minutes until browned and softened.
- Add in the peppers and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables regularly to make sure they don't stick.
- Next add the aubergines and cover your wok with a lid before turning the heat down slightly and cooking for another 4-5 minutes (stirring half way through).
- If at any point the vegetables are sticking and the pan is dry, add another tablespoon of oil.
- Add the spring onions, garlic, Shaoxing rice wine, and soy sauce to the pan and stir.
- Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until all of the vegetables are coated in the sauce.
- (Optional) If you want the dish a little more wet and saucy, mix the water and cornflour, add to the pan and cook on high until the sauce is your desired consistency.