Chinese spicy, garlicky aubergine2017-03-09
I love aubergines! I love the unctiousness of it, when it’s fully cooked and melting in my mouth! This dish has that perfect texture of aubergine that I love so much. I’ve tried deep-frying, pan-frying and airfrying the aubergines and the best result came from the last method – airfrying. The aubergine turned a golden colour and the nuttiness really came out in spades. It’s just irresistible. In fact, this is what I’ll be eating next time I crave some snack – just plain air-fried aubergine with some salt and voila, heaven on a plate!
Anyway, back to the dish at hand! The amount of chili bean paste is up to you – whether you want to have a tummy ache afterwards (which I had) or just a mild tingling of the tastebuds. The Sichuan peppers here are essential as they give that added zing from the tongue-numbing effect.
I’m not a fan of Chinkiang vinegar but here, it adds a mustiness that’s just undefinable but a must-have!
- 1kg aubergine, cut into large cubes
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon mini-matchsticks of ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili bean paste
- 2dl chicken or veg stock
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
- 1dl sliced spring onion
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1dl water or more
- 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, toasted on a dry frying pan and crushed finely
Toss the aubergine together with 2 tablespoons oil (rapeseed is my fav)
Fry in the airfryer at around 170 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden. Fry in several batches. Do not overlap the aubergine in the frying basket.
Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, fish sauce, chili bean paste, and sugar in a separate bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water. Set aside.
Heat a wok on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and warm until smoking
Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, one minute or so.
Add the aubergine, Sichuan peppers, stock and the sauce and stir until the aubergine is thoroughly coated with the sauce and is warmed through.
Add the cornstarch mix and Chinkiang vinegar to the aubergine and cook for about 3 minutes.
Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Add the spring onion. Done!
Enjoy with a bowl of plain, steamed rice or eaten just as is! Yum!