Chinese Aubergines with Garlic

We’re celebrating the Chinese New Year this month and this is a Chinese dish which brings me particularly happy memories.

Chinese aubergines with garlic recipe
This is the Chinese name for this dish

I met my daughter in Shanghai prior to a momentous backpacking journey all around China and Tibet. The day before we set out we had lunch with some of my daughter’s colleagues – I noticed two of them were eating this aubergine mixture and I thought I’d try it.

I was delighted I did – it tastes great and unlike a lot of aubergine dishes it doesn’t take long.

It goes well with all sorts of things – white fish, chicken breasts…I think it would go well with a few toasted pecans and some raisins too.

chinese aubergines with garlic recipe

Tangy Chinese Aubergines

The dish my daughter missed the most after coming back from China. It is a fantastic way of cooking aubergine. The recipe can be easily adapted for vegans and vegetarians, by removing the mince and using vegetable stock instead.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 aubergines cut to 8cm sticks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch to coat the aubergine
  • 3 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar balsamic vinegar will do if you can't find any
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine you can also use dry sherry, mirin or wine vinegar if you can't find any
  • 1 tbsp Fermented Chilli Bean Paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 4 spring onions normal onions will do
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumbswidth fresh ginger grated you can keep a whole root in the freezer and grate from frozen without peeling. It's much nicer than ground ginger.
  • 1/2 lbs beef/pork/lamb mince (230g) pork is more typical for Chinese cuisine, but beef and lamb are also fine
  • 1 handful peanuts

Instructions
 

  • Chop the aubergine into long sticks about 8 cm long and 6mm thick.
  • Place the aubergine in a large bowl and add water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt and mix well. Weight the aubergines with a lid of sorts to keep them under water for 15 mins then drain and pat dry.
  • Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, fermented chilli bean paste, sugar, stock and cornstarch together in a bowl.
  • Coat the aubergine with cornstarch.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan until hot and then spread the aubergine across the pan so that you can fry one side at a time until all surfaces are charred and the aubergine is soft. This should take 5-7 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. You may have to do this in multiple batches.
  • Leaving about a tablespoon of the oil in the pan, add the mince, chopped onions, garlic and ginger and cook until golden.
  • Stir the sauce again to completely dissolve the cornstarch, then pour into the pan. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens.
  • If you want to at this stage you can scatter in some peanuts. This isn't typical, but it gives an added crunch.
  • Add the aubergines and mix well.
  • Serve as a side dish or as a main with rice
Keyword aubergine, mince, peanuts
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