Eggplant or aubergines is one of my favorite vegetables. There are so many ways to cook it. Whether you grill, bake, stir-fry, deep-fry, or just steam aubergines, it will taste great. This is another simple recipe that goes very well with steamed rice. Enjoy ;)
Recipe adapted from Sichuan Cookery By Fuchsia Dunlop
Fish-Fragrant Eggplant (Aubergines)
600-700 g Eggplant (2 decent-sized eggplant, or a good handful of slender oriental eggplant)
Peanut or Corn Oil for Deep-Frying
1 1/2 Tbsp Sichuanese Chili Bean Paste
1 Tbsp Finely Chopped Fresh Ginger
1 Tbsp Finely Chopped Garlic
150 ml Chicken Stock
1 1/2 tsp White Sugar
1/2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
3/4 tsp Corn Flour or Tapioca Flour, mixed with 1 Tbsp cold water
1 1/2 tsp Chinkiang or Chinese Black Vinegar
4 stalks Scallions, green parts only, sliced into fine rings
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then crosswise. Chop each quarter lengthwise into 3 or 4 evenly sliced chunks. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp salt and leave for at least 30 minutes to draw out the bitter juices. If you are using the oriental eggplant, simply slice them in half lengthwise and then into 7-8 cm sections - there is no need to salt them.
In your wok, heat oil for deep-frying to 180-200˚C (at this temperature it will just be beginning to smoke). Add the eggplant in batches and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until slightly golden on the outside and soft and buttery within. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Drain off the deep-frying oil, rinse the wok if necessary, and then return it to a high heat with 2-3 Tbsp of oil. Add the chili bean paste and stir-fry about 20 seconds until the oil is red and fragrant; then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir-fry for another 20-30 seconds until they are fragrant. Take care not to burn the flavorings - remove the wok from the heat for a few seconds or turn down the heat if necessary.
Add the stock, sugar and soy sauce and mix well. Season with salt to taste if necessary.
Add the fried eggplant to the sauce and let them simmer gently for a few minutes to absorbs some of the flavors. Then sprinkle the corn flour mixture over the eggplant and stir in gently to thicken the sauce. Next, stir in the vinegar and scallions and leave for a few seconds until the scallions have lost their rawness. Finally, remove the wok from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.