Riverford Wicked Leeks
Fish-fragrant aubergine recipe image

Print Fish-fragrant aubergine

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,


  • 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 & 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


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