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.
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.
Tangy Chinese Aubergines
- 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
- 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