Three Treasures From Earth – Sautéed Eggplant Potato and Bell Pepper (地三鲜 Di San Xian)
October 23, 2021  Print
The temperature in Texas has finally come down a bit, although it’s still pretty hot in the afternoons. As a result, my one and only Japanese eggplant plant has been yielding an increasing number of eggplants these days. Since I also have a steady supply of bell peppers from my raised garden beds, it makes perfect sense to be making this popular Northeastern Chinese dish: Three Treasure From Earth. Besides the two treasures mentioned earlier, eggplant and bell peppers, this recipe also uses potatoes as the last treasure. I plan to grow some next year after we build more garden beds.
This vegetarian dish was created in Northeastern China using these three in-season vegetables. I already have two out of the three right in my back yard, so it really can’t get much fresher than that. These three simple vegetables, eggplant, bell peppers, and potatoes, each with their own distinctive taste and texture, complement each other extremely well in a rich flavorful sauce that’s both savory and sweet.
I have made quite some changes to the method for cooking this dish. Traditionally, the three main ingredients eggplants, potatoes, and bell peppers are first deep fried until they are nearly done, then combined with a flavorful sauce. For my table, I don’t typically like deep frying. Instead, I only use a small amount of oil to lightly sauté the ingredients in a non-stick pan until they are soft and mostly cooked. It does require some patience to slowly sauté the vegetables. But, at least for me, the result is equally yummy and much healthier than the deep-fried version. Eggplants especially tend to soak up oil like a sponge in the deep-fried version. By using my method for preparing the main ingredients, I don’t need to worry about consuming too much oil or how to use the leftover oil from deep frying.
A non-stick pan works the best for my method since the potatoes won’t stick to the pan during sautéing. If you want to save some time, you can steam the eggplants for 8 minutes instead while sautéing the other two ingredients. Or if you love deep drying food and have extra oil to spare, by all means, don’t let me prevent you from deep frying the three main ingredients.
This dish goes extremely well with rice and porridge. If you like the “three treasures,” eggplants, bell peppers, and potatos, try some of my other recipes featuring these ingredients, such as the Chinese Steamed Eggplants With Garlic, Spicy Garlic Eggplant Boat, Bell Peppers And Bacon Stir Fry, Stir Fry Julienned Potatoes With Chili Pepper.
Tools: Medium to large non-stick pan
Gluten Free,2 Vegan
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2-4 people family style
- 1 large or 2 medium Chinese or Japanese eggplants1 (about 1/2 lb)
- 1 medium yellow potato
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 green onions
- 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (used separately)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 2
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 3 tablespoons water
- Roll cut the eggplants into wedges. Hold the knife at a 45° degree angle and make a slanted cut. Then roll the eggplant 180° degree and make another slanted cut. Repeat the same process until no eggplant remains. Peel the potato. Cut the potato into medium-size chunks. Remove the bell pepper’s seeds and veins (the white part inside the pepper). Cut the bell pepper into medium pieces.
- Peel and mince the garlic cloves. Mince the green onion as well.
- In a small dish, combine the 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of corn starch, and 3 tablespoons of water, mixing well.
- Heat a large non-stick pan under medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is warm, add the potato pieces. Toss and stir occasionally to make sure all sides are cooked. Lower the heat a little if the potatoes are getting browned. The potatoes are ready when the color has changed to a richer golden hue with some surfaces slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a plate. Make sure the oil remains in the pan.
- Add the diced bell peppers to the same non-stick pan. Lightly sauté the bell peppers until the skin begins to form wrinkles. Transfer the bell peppers out to the same plate as the potatoes, leaving the oil in the pan.
- Gently sauté the eggplant wedges. Make sure to sauté the eggplants last (after the potatoes and bell peppers) since eggplants tend to absorb the most oil. Toss and stir occasionally until eggplants become soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can steam the eggplants for 8 minutes.
- In the same non-stick pan, under medium-low heat, add the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Then add the minced garlic and onions, stirring briefly. Add the prepared sauce (stir gently before adding). Keep tossing the sauce until the sauce becomes relatively thick, about 10 seconds. Add a little bit of water if sauce becomes too thick. Then add the sautéed potatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants to the pan and mix well with the sauce. Stir and toss for another minute and transfer to a plate. Enjoy while hot.
- Both Chinese and Japanese eggplants have delicate skin, so you don’t need to peel it off. If using other types of eggplants, make sure to peel the skin off.
- Use gluten free soy sauce or tamari if you are gluten sensitive or intolerant.
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