Serves 2 as a main, 3-4 as a side or starter
Healthy Tip: Aubergines can absorb large amounts of oil during cooking. If a recipe calls for aubergine slices, soaking them beforehand in salted water draws out the bitter juices and makes the flesh denser and less likely to absorb large quantities of fat.
Note: This recipe comes from China’s Szechuan province, which of course is nowhere near the sea – it is called this because the spices used are often used with fish. It can be served cold as well as hot, so it makes a great accompaniment for the barbecue. Despite its Chinese flavours, it is also great eaten in the same way as the popular Middle Eastern aubergine dip Babaganoush, with some warm pitta bread and a glass of cold white wine.
2 medium sized aubergines, cut into large chunks or batons
1 medium onion, finely sliced or diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 two-inch piece of ginger, minced
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 “Facing Heaven” Szechuan dried red chillies, sliced in rings
2 tsp. Szechuan Stir-fry blend
1 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar powder (can splash the liquid, but not quite the same)
2 large, mild green chillies, sliced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
Chopped spring onions, to garnish
Heat the vegetable oil in a deep, frying pan or wok, then add the red chillies and let them colour.
When they have, add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a minute before adding the aubergine.
Stir fry until the aubergines begin to colour and add the green chillies, then add the stir-fry blend, the Balsamic Vinegar powder and the soy sauce.
Give the pan a good shake and stir and then add enough water just to cover the aubergines.
Cook on a moderate heat until the water has pretty much gone, by which time the aubergines should be softening nicely but still holding their shape, then add the sesame oil.
Cook for a few minutes more to let the sesame blend in, and it’s ready. It does this dish no harm at all to make it several hours in advance, then you can serve cold or quickly heat it through if you need to.