Di San Xian (地三鲜) is a signature northern Chinese dish from Manchuria. Manchuria is located in north-east China (东北, Dōngbĕi - Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning) and the Russian Far East. The dish’s poetic name is roughly translated to “three earthly bounties”, consisting of stir-fried eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. . These are the most common vegetables in any market in northern China and they also symbolize the end of the summer harvest. This delectable dish is not only popular in China, but also in the neighboring Far East of Russia, where it's known as "Чисанчи" and referred to as stir-fried three treasures or stir-fried three delicious in some restaurants.
Simplicity is key in this dish, yet it yields a level of satisfaction that is truly remarkable. And what better way to enjoy it than with a steaming bowl of rice, the perfect accompaniment to this sublime culinary experience. So, let your taste buds soar and savor the rustic elegance of Northeast Chinese cuisine.
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 medium potatoes
1/2 medium green bell pepper
1/2 medium red bell pepper
1 medium Japanese or Chinese eggplant
Neutral oil, for deep-frying
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
Cooked rice, for serving
To prepare the dish, begin by whisking together soy sauces, sugar, and ¾ cup of water until the sugar is fully dissolved in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and mix well.
Scrub and peel the potatoes or leave the skin on, then cut them into 1-inch chunks. Similarly, cut the bell peppers into 1-inch chunks and roll-cut the eggplant into 1-inch pieces just before frying to prevent oxidation.
Heat enough oil for frying (1 to 2 inches deep) in a large wok or saucepan to 350°F. While the oil heats up, set a wire rack on top of a sheet pan next to the stove. Fry the potatoes until they turn golden brown, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Use a sieve to transfer the potatoes to the wire rack to drain any excess oil. Next, flash-fry the eggplant for about 45 seconds, followed by the bell peppers after 30 seconds. Once done, transfer the eggplant and peppers to the wire rack.
Pour the oil carefully into a heatproof vessel, reserving about 1 tablespoon in the pan for further use. Over medium heat, sauté garlic and scallion until aromatic, which should take about a minute. Add the soy-sugar mixture, cornstarch mixture, Shaoxing wine, white pepper, salt, and sesame oil. Stir and mix everything well and bring it to a boil.
Add the potatoes, eggplant, and bell pepper to the pan and toss to combine. Cook until everything is nicely coated and the potatoes are fork-tender, which should take less than 2 minutes. Taste the dish and adjust seasoning accordingly. Finally, add the slurry and simmer until the mixture has thickened.
Serve the dish immediately with a bowl of rice for a delicious meal.