Chinese spicy, garlicky aubergine


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


Step 1

Toss the aubergine together with 2 tablespoons oil (rapeseed is my fav)

Step 2

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.

Step 3

Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, fish sauce, chili bean paste, and sugar in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Step 4

In another bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water. Set aside.

Step 5

Heat a wok on high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and warm until smoking

Step 6

Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, one minute or so.

Step 7

Add the aubergine, Sichuan peppers, stock and the sauce and stir until the aubergine is thoroughly coated with the sauce and is warmed through.

Step 8

Add the cornstarch mix and Chinkiang vinegar to the aubergine and cook for about 3 minutes.

Step 9

Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Step 10

Add the spring onion. Done!

Step 11

Enjoy with a bowl of plain, steamed rice or eaten just as is! Yum!

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