Friday, 30 November 2007

Fish fragrant aubergine/eggplant (鱼香茄子)

I had one aubergine left that had to be used, and some minced pork. Putting the two together made me think of this Szechuan dish. I have made it before a couple of times with packet sauces but it never tasted quite right. The last time I cooked this from scratch, it tasted pretty good. This time I found another recipe which seems to work well, and the addition of black vinegar really gave it the authentic flavour. You can add some dried chilli, Sichuan peppercorn or chilli oil to turn up the heat if you prefer.

Fish-fragrant aubergine/eggplant (鱼香茄子)

In spite of its name, there is no fish in this dish at all. The 'fish fragrant' term comes from the vinegar-based sauce, which is often used in the cooking of fish.

Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 medium or large aubergine, sliced into stips about 1cm thick and 5cm long
- Oil for frying and cooking
- 200g minced pork
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp chili bean paste (香辣豆瓣酱)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp light Soy Sauce
- 2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
- 100ml water
- 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar (I use Chin Kiang brand)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Coriander or spring onions for garnish, finely chopped.

Sprinkle the aubergine slices with salt and leave for 30min to draw out some of the moisture and bitterness. Rinse and pat dry. Skip this step if using the long and slim Asian variety.

Fry the aubergine slices in hot oil for about 3-4 min, until slightly golden. Drain on some paper towels. This step is optional but gives extra flavour to the dish. Aubergine tends to soak up oil when it is still raw so I usually put it in the microwave on full power for 2 minute so that it is semi-cooked and absorbs less oil. Or you can just start from the step below.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds and then add the minced pork. Brown the meat and break up any lumps, cooking until hardly any pink colour remains. Add the chilli bean sauce, water, sugar and light soy sauce and mix well. Add the aubergine slices, stir to mix and simmer for a few minutes.

Add the cornstarch mixture and stir through. Simmer for a minute to thicken the sauce. Finally, add the black vinegar and sesame oil and mix evenly. Remove from heat and serve with a sprinkle of chopped coriander or spring onions.


Greg said...

Oh, that looks absolutely fantastic. I never was very keen on eggplant because I didn't know how to cook it. But I have rediscovered this wonderful vegetable and it's now a favorite. Definitely add some chili to this and some Szechuan peppercorn. It will make your mouth zing.

Nilmandra said...

Thanks. I love eggplant although I know many people don't. I think it's mainly because most people don't know many recipes for it. I have to get some Szechuan peppercorn and dried chili soon to make Gong Bao (Kung Pow) Chicken !

Little Corner of Mine said...

Oh yummy! I simply love this dish but I hardly buy eggplant because my hubby doesn't eat eggplant! So, I can only buy it once in a while to cook for myself...why? Because when I cook this dish, I have to cook another dish for him, so troublesome. :P

Nilmandra said...

little corner of mine: Poor you! But then I do know many people who don't like eggplant either. It is troublesome to cook an extra dish but hey when the craving hits... :) Like my husband is not too keen on rice porridge/congee so I cook that for myself sometimes for lunch when I'm at home.

simplething said...

What can I use instead of black vinegar? I really don't think I'm going to be able to find/buy it anywhere in my area.

Nilmandra said...

simplething: I have heard of someone using balsamic vinegar instead of black vinegar and it seems to work. It will probably taste a bit different but there should still be that intensity of vinegar taste.

Pixie said...

Sounds wonderful, will add this to my list of eggplant dishes to make! :)

Pixie said...
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