Spicy Sichuan aubergine
A winter favourite, bursting with heat and flavour.
Serves 2-4 to share
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook in: 12 minutes
A spicy dish bursting with heat and flavour, with a delicate savoury tang from the black rice vinegar, this is definitely a winter favourite.
groundnut oil for deep-frying
1 large aubergine, sliced lengthways into 2cm / ¾ inch wide x 4cm / 1 ½ inch long, chunky batons
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5cm/1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium red chilli, with seeds, sliced into rings
2 tablespoons chilli bean sauce
200ml/7fl oz hot vegetable stock
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinkiang black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 pinches of brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour blended with 2 tablespoons cold water
1 spring onion, finely chopped
egg-fried rice to serve
1. Heat a wok over a high heat, then fill the wok to one-third of its depth with groundnut oil. Heat the oil to 180ºC/375ºF or until a cube of bread dropped in turns golden brown in 15 seconds and floats to the surface.
2. Pat the aubergine dry and, using tongs, lower each piece into the oil and deep-fry for 3 minutes until slightly golden, the skin slightly wrinkled and the flesh soft but still retaining its shape. Remove from the oil and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
3. Pour the oil from the wok through a sieve into a heatproof container (you can use it to make delicious stir-fries). Return 1 tablespoon oil to the wok and heat until smoking, then add the garlic, ginger and sliced chilli and stir-fry quickly for a few seconds. Stir in the chilli bean sauce and return the aubergines to the wok. Add the hot stock and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 3 minutes until all the aubergine is soft and creamy.
4. Season with the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar, then add the blended cornflour and stir to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with the spring onion for a fresh bite and serve immediately with egg-fried rice.