Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜)

Perfectly charred and crispy pan fried potato, eggplant and pepper stirred with a garlicky savory sauce. A simple vegan dish that makes a great dinner served with a bowl of white rice! {gluten-free adaptable}

Di San Xian (地三鲜) is a signature northern Chinese dish from the Dongbei Area (or Northeast China). The name Di San Xian means “three treasures from the ground”, representing the potato, eggplant and green pepper in the dish. These are the most common vegetables in any market in northern China which can be found all year round.

Like many other Northeast Chinese dishes, the cuisine emphasizes a family style presented in a rustic way that is often viewed as less elegant. However, the cooking method does turn these three plain vegetables into a feast that has your mouth watering simply by looking at it!

To cook Di San Xian in restaurant style, you will need to quickly fry all the ingredients in hot oil in the wok. It is called Guo You (过油) in Chinese; literally meaning to walk the ingredients through the oil. This creates a crispy crust outside of the veggies without using any batter.

Di San Xian Cooking Process

When it comes to home cooking, I try to avoid deep frying as much as possible. So I’ve developed a few tricks to create crispy veggies with less oil and a cleaner kitchen counter. The veggies will brown beautifully with a crispy char on the surface and tender inside, just like you find in a restaurant.

To enjoy Di San Xian, serve it hot on top of steamed rice or boiled noodles. I guarantee you’ll finish a big plate in no time!

 Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜) - Vegan | Gluten-Free | Stir-Fry | Chinese Recipe

Cooking notes

  • Although Asian eggplant generates better results, I’ve successfully cooked with regular eggplant. As long as you follow the method in the recipe, your eggplant will turn out crispy.
  • Soak the eggplant in salt water for 15 to 20 minutes, dry thoroughly, and then coat with cornstarch. This is my default method to create crispy eggplant without deep frying.
  • Slice the potato into half-moon shapes instead of cutting into wedges so that both sides crisp up perfectly in the pan.
  • Use just enough oil to cover the pan to shallow fry the vegetables instead of deep frying.
  • After making countless stir fry dishes, I’ve found again and again that cooking in small batches creates much better results. The recipe below only yields two servings (as a main). You can always double the recipe, but remember that you need to pan fry the veggies in small batches to achieve the best outcome.

Di San Xian Cooking Process Di San Xian Cooking Process

More Northeast China Recipes

Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish!

 Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜) - Vegan | Gluten-Free | Stir-Fry | Chinese Recipe

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 2
Ingredients
Sauce
Stir fry
  • 1/2 regular eggplant or 1 large Asian (around 10 ounces / 300 grams) , chopped into bitesize pieces (*Footnote 2)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 small russet potato (about 1/2 pound / 230 grams), halved and sliced to 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) pieces
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • (Optional) 2 teaspoons sesame seeds for garnish
Instructions
  1. Add eggplant into a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt. Add tap water to cover and stir to dissolve the salt. Use a small plate or a lid to cover the eggplant pieces and submerge them in the water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain eggplant and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Sprinkle with cornstarch and gently mix by hand, until the eggplant pieces are lightly coated.
  3. Combine vegetable stock, light soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Heat a large pan (or a wok) with 1/3 cup oil over medium-high heat until hot. Place the eggplant in the pan and spread the pieces without overlapping. Cook the eggplant without moving it until the bottom turns golden brown. If the oil in the pan is fully absorbed by the eggplant before cooking through, add a bit more oil to the pan. Turn to medium heat when the pan start to smoke. Flip the pieces to cook the other side until golden brown. Transfer to a big plate.
  5. Your pan should still have plenty of oil since the eggplant will start releasing oil once cooked.
  6. Spread the potato pieces in the pan. Cook without moving until the bottom turns golden. Flip to cook the other side, until golden. Transfer to the plate with the eggplant.
  7. If your pan still has too much oil, carefully remove some with a folded paper towel and only leave about 1 teaspoon oil in the pan.
  8. Add green onion and garlic and stir a few times until fragrant.
  9. Mix the sauce again to dissolve cornstarch completely. Pour into the pan. The sauce will thicken immediately.
  10. Return the eggplant and potato to the pan and add bell pepper. Cook and stir until the sauce is evenly coated over the vegetables. Transfer everything to a plate immediately.
  11. Garnish with sesame seeds (if using) and serve hot with steamed rice as a main or as a side.
Notes
1. Dark soy sauce adds an appetizing dark brown color to the sauce. Regular soy sauce will work just fine but your dish will turn out lighter in color.

2. Regular eggplant contains more liquid and is difficult to crisp up. You’ll obtain better results if you use Asian eggplant.

 

The recipe was originally published on Aug 12, 2013 and updated by Mar 14, 2017

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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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17 thoughts on “Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜)

      1. Thomas

        I finally got around to making it and was really pleased with how it turned out! This meal definitely brought back good memories. 🙂

  1. Jen

    Thanks Maggie, for an authentic recipe for di san xian. I have lived in China for six years and this is the first recipe for Chinese food that tastes just as good as at our favorite local restaurant. Actually it’s even better because I can use bell peppers instead of the green hot peppers that are typically served with the dish here in Qingdao. It got a thumbs up from my husband and son even though I cooked the eggplant a little too long on one side.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jen, thank you very much for trying out the recipe and leave me all the kind words. I started out this blog not so long ago and you are the first person who cooked my recipe. It means a lot to me and I will keep sharing more of my cooking experience. 🙂
      Happy cooking and bon appetit!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: 2014.01.12 — January update | The Delights of Being Human

  3. Kim

    Thanks a lot for this delicious recipe!! I just had “Di san xian” at a Chinese restaurant here in Sweden and I totally loved it.. so I had to make it myself today :-)! It turned out very nice and I’m already excited to look through your other recipes!

    Greetings from Sweden!

    Kim

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Kim, I’m so glad that you cooked my recipe and liked it! 🙂
      Di San Xian is one of my favorite dishes too and very good way to eat a lot of vegetables!
      Looking forward for your visit to my site again and Bon Appétit! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Jodie Navarre

    This is my third time to make di san qian, all in a week! I have been living in China for a little over a year and this is a great recipe and simple, thank you. I noticed the measurement for salt just says 1/2 though. I assume it was 1/2 teaspoon but I will actually leave it out next time to see what its like because the soy sauce brings some saltiness to it already. I also made it today with potatoes, mushrooms and slices of pork and it was yummy! Thanks so much, I will be checking out your other recipes.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jodie, thanks very much for leaving a comment and correct my recipe! You’re right, I meant to say 1/2 teaspoon. Just updated the recipe now.
      I’m so glad to hear that you cooked my recipe and like it! You just made my day 🙂
      Yep, I agree that soy sauce might brought enough saltiness to the dish. Sometimes I tend to make a dish a bit saltier, so it will goes with steamed rice. But please do feel free to adjust the saltiness according to your taste bud and the type of soy sauce you use.
      Your idea sounds so great! I love using mushroom and pork in stir fried dish too. Will try out this combination next time! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  5. Amalia

    Oh I’m so happy to finally have found this recipe, but do you know how to do 西红柿炒鸡蛋??? and also 炒茄子? I’m kind of embarrased to ask you that but I really miss thoses chinese dishes….

    Thanks for all 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Amalia, I have two eggplant recipe. One is fish fragrant eggplant (鱼香茄子), you can find it here => http://104.236.198.25/recipes/fish-fragrant-eggplant/. The other one is Di San Xian (地三鲜), you can find it here => http://104.236.198.25/recipes/di-san-xian-recipe/.
      I don’t have the tomato and egg recipe on my blog now, but I do have a post that I plan to publish soon. If you come back next Monday, you can find 西红柿炒鸡蛋 on my homepage 🙂
      Have you been living in China? It seems like you know a lot of classic local dishes 🙂
      Hope you have a great weekend!

      Reply
  6. richa

    I am excited to try your dish! If I am making this as a side dish for 15 ppl (with 3 main dishes), Can you give me an idea on the amount of ingredients I would need to use instead? Also, how long can I make it in advance? I wont have time on the day of. Would it be bad to make it 2 days in advance and reheat it on the skillet when ready to be served?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Richa, I suggest you quadruple the recipe (each vegetable x 4 ). It will be a lot of cooking. You might want to consider the option of roasting the vegetables in the oven.
      Chop the potato and eggplant into larger pieces, like bite size, coat with plenty oil, season with a bit salt, and roast them with high temperature (450F or even 500F) in the oven, to brown the surface. Then you make the sauce separately, by cooking the green onion and garlic in the oil, and mix in all the seasonings, without the cornstarch. On the day of serving, you can heat up vegetables in the oven. Then heat up the sauce in a large dutch oven on stove top. Slowly add cornstarch slurry to thicken it. In the end, you transfer the vegetables into the dutch oven, to mix them together.
      Btw, if you are not using Asian long eggplant, you can sprinkle salt onto them before cooking, and let them rest for 30 minutes to draw moisture out. Then you remove the liquid with paper towel. It will keep the eggplant firm and generate a better texture.
      You might also want to make more sauce. The original recipe uses just enough sauce to coat the vegetables. I figure you can cook more, so it will be more appealing to the guests => 1/2 cup light soy sauce (or soy sauce), 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine, 1/4 cup chicken stock, skip salt (since you need have added salt while baking), and a few more cloves garlic and more green onion.
      Of course if you prefer to follow the original recipe, you can do it on stove top by cooking in batches. You will need a very large pan for the last step, when you mix the vegetables with sauce.
      The dish will stay good for a day or two. The veggies won’t be crispy anymore, but should still be very flavorful.

      Reply
      1. richa

        Thank you so much for going above and beyond to give me the alternate recipe! I truly appreciate your help. When you say to roast it in the oven…for how long would you think it’ll take in the oven and shall I toss the veggies around half way through the process? Also, if I don’t have a dutch oven, can I use a nonstick pot to mix the veggies with the sauce?

      2. Maggie Post author

        Hi Richa, I think for eggplant and potato, you can try 450 F, roast for 10 minutes, take out once and stir, bake for another 10 minutes to 15 minutes, until the surface is charred and the veggies are cooked through. Bell pepper, depends on the size, the cooking time varies. But I won’t bake them for too long. They will become too tender. Maybe 10 minutes? A nonstick pot is no problem at all!
        I never cooked for so many people. That’s a lot of work! I hope the recipes works for you Richa, and hope you have a successful and delicious party 🙂