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Sichuan(ish) Celery

The first time I tried this dish converted me into a full-on celery addict to the point that if I even smell celery in the grocery store, it's coming home with me to make this dish. Over the last couple of years, I've improvised dozens of versions and landed on one that I think makes it even more addictive.

This recipe calls for two ingredients that can be hard to find locally: Pixian doubanjiang and Zhenjiang vinegar. Both can be transliterated in multiple ways, which makes shopping even trickier. "Doubanjiang" has been the most common spelling in my experience, but it can also be spelled as "toban-djan" or just shortened to "Pixiandouban", while "Zhenjiang" can also be spelled as "Chinkiang".

I've never been to a Chinese grocery store that didn't carry both of these items, but if you don't have access to one locally, Amazon carries the common brands. I'd personally recommend the versions that themalamarket.com carries because they're incredible (we have no relationship with them, they just import great products).

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Yield

4 servings (with rice)

Time

About 15 minutes

Ingredients

400gcelery100gbacon50gPixian doubanjiang20ggarlic20gginger5gZhenjiang vinegar5gwhite peppercorn2gSichuan peppercornneutral oil

Instructions

1Prep

Wash, trim, and slice celery diagonally to get nice long slivers.

Finely mince (or crush) garlic and ginger.

Thinly slice bacon across the strip to get nice slivers.

Grind peppercorns together in a spice grinder.

Measure out your doubanjiang and vinegar — you'll want them ready to go. Err on the light side with the vinegar. It can be overpowering if you're not careful.

2Fry
Before you start this step, have everything measured and prepped! This is going to go fast.

Preheat a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add just enough oil to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. It should start shimmering almost immediately, but not smoke (if it smokes, reduce the heat).

Add bacon and cook until lightly crispy.

Add ginger and garlic and fry until fragrant — about 30 seconds.

Add doubanjiang and mix into the oil so it turns bright red (Some doubanjiang will absorb oil, some won't. If you need more oil, feel free to add more.)

Add celery and toss to combine.

Add a little bit of the peppercorn mix. Taste and add more to your preference.

Add vinegar and cut the heat.

3Serve

Serve with bowls of short-grain rice and extra spice blend on the side.