Aubergine is probably one of my favourite vegetable, if you cook it right it’s sweet, soft and scrumptiously good but if it is not cooked through it’s like eating paper pulp, strange vegetable.
Moussaka and Fish Fragrant aubergine are probably my favourites. I am no expert in Greek cooking so I will just post a Chinese recipe.
魚香茄子‘Yu-xiang qie-zi’ or simply read as ‘ye siang chair jie’)
There is no fish in the dish. ‘Fish fragrant’ is a classic name for a Sichuan sauce made up of various ingredients like chilli bean paste, garlic, ginger, black vinegar etc…..to make a sauce which is hot, salty, slightly sweet and slightly sour.
I normally brush the aubergine pieces with oil and pan fried till brown. Most Chinese and traditional way is to deep fry. The aubergine pieces do absorb most of the oil if deep fried, so it can a bit high in calories for people watching their diet. I will deep fry occasionally, it’s worth doing because deep frying gives a lovely nutty flavour a lot better than pan fried, the aubergine is so much sweeter and the the texture just melts in your mouth with a lovely red oil oozing out of the aubergines when cooked.
Recipe (serve about 3 – 4)
2 large aubergine or about 4 Chinese aubergines (long thin and paler than the western cousin)
80 - 100g minced pork*
cooking oil (qty depend on if deep fried or pan fried)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated or chopped ginger
from 2 tsp – 3 tbsp chilli bean sauce/paste 辣豆瓣醬(or normally called ‘dou ban jiang’ ), much as you like, I like it very hot and quite salty, so I normally use 3 tbsp
1/2 - 1 tsp light soy
1/2 tsp dark soy
1 - 2 tbsp chinese cooking wine
1 - 2 tbsp chinese black rice vinegar
1 - 2 tsp of sugar
boiling water or stock
1 - 2 red chilli, chopped (optional if you like it hot)
1 tsp of cornflour with a little water to mix
2 stalks of spring onions, chopped
2 – 3 tsp of chilli oil or sesame oil
extra chopped spring onion and chilli for garnish
2. a. Normally the aubergine is deep fried for few minutes in about 1 cup of oil till brown and softened. Fry the aubergine in two batches. When done take them out and drain on a sieve for at least 15 minutes, some excess oil will come out which you can remove.
2. b. To fry with as little oil as possible, brush the pieces with oil, fry till brown and softened for about 5 – 10 minutes. Leave aside. It is not necessary to cook the aubergine till completely soft, the rest of cooking is done during the simmering stage.
3. In a clean pan/wok add some cooking oil heat till hot, add the garlic and ginger stir for few seconds, add the mince pork, stir fry till fragrant and brown. Push the mince aside and add the chilli bean sauce and stir for about 30 seconds till fragrant, add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce. Add a splash of cooking wine, black vinegar and some sugar to taste. Add the aubergine pieces and enough water or stock, covered and leave to stew for few minutes till the aubergine is soft and the cooking liquid has reduced to nearly dry.
4. Thickened with a little cornflour and water. Stir in most of the chopped spring onion. Sprinkle on some chilli oil or sesame oil, do not stir. Ready to plate up.
5. Sprinkle with some more spring onion and maybe more chopped chillies for garnish.
* For a vegetarian version sub mince with soaked and chopped shitake mushroom (about 3 – 5 mushrooms). You can also have this dish without any mince or mushroom.