Pic of Fish-fragrant aubergine

Fish-fragrant aubergine

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Vegetarian mains

Fish-fragrant aubergine

Side Serves 3 25 min
No fish at all in this Chinese recipe – but a gorgeous layering of flavours. The aubergine is cooked with the ingredients that are often used with fish – hence fish-fragrant. Watch the fumes when the chilli hits the hot oil. Sichuan pepper has a marvelous incense-like aroma. Some larger supermarkets, some delicatessens, and all oriental food shops will stock it. If not, black pepper is fine instead,

Ingredients

  • 1 very large or 2 small aubergine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • oil for deep-frying, e.g. vegetable or sunflower
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • large pinch freshly ground Sichuan or black pepper
  • 1 tbsp rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Method

Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 10 min
  • Step 1

    Cut the aubergine into slices about 2.5cm thick. Cut each slice into diamond-shaped chunks. Spread out in a colander and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse under the cold tap, drain and pat dry on kitchen paper.
  • Step 2

    Soak the chillies in warm water for 15 minutes, then cut each one into 3 pieces, discarding the seeds.
  • Step 3

    Heat enough oil in a wok to deep-fry the aubergine chunks. When it's just smoking add the aubergine and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Step 4

    Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil. Re-heat and add the chilli, spring onions, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the aubergine and toss. Now add all the remaining ingredients except the sesame oil. Stir-fry for further 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and serve.