Recently we paid a visit to a Chinese restaurant in Budapest. We ordered a number of different dishes to share between us all. One of the dishes was called “yú xiāng eggplant”. As you may have noticed already, eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables and I insisted on ordering that dish for us to try. It was definitely one of the top dishes we ordered so I had to do some research about it and try cooking it myself.
After some trials and experimentation, playing with different recipes and adjusting them according to the products which were available to me, I came up with the following version of the recipe. The taste is obviously not exactly the same as the one we tried at the restaurant. However, it is also mouthwatering. And the good thing about it is that it is a simple and easy recipe that can be done in a short amount of time.
One of the tricks that I learnt for a crispy yet soft aubergine is to let the chopped aubergine sit in a salt bath for at least 15 minutes. Even after it is cooked and is left sitting in the sauce, the aubergine sticks remain crispy on the outside.
Chinese Sticky Aubergine
A sticky sweet and spicy vegan dish inspired by Chinese cuisine.
- 1 large aubergine
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2-3 tbsp cornstarch
- 4-6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
For the sauce:
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp doubanjiang (fermented bean chili paste)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 120ml vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Chop the aubergine into long 1cm thick sticks.
- Place the chopped aubergine into a large bowl, cover with water and add the salt. Mix well, place a lid or a plate to keep the aubergine under water and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Drain the aubergine and pat it dry. Place the aubergine into a dry clean bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over it. Mix well to ensure that there is a thin layer of cornstarch all over each piece.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.
- Heat a large frying pan and once hot add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, spread the aubergine in the pan in a single layer. You might have to do this in 2 batches.
- Cook on a medium high heat until the aubergine sticks are golden brown on all sides and are soft and fully cooked through in the middle. Transfer to a plate.
- Using the same pan, add the Sichuan peppercorns and cook until they turn dark brown. Add the spring onions, garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Add the cooked aubergine back into the pan and stir to combine everything together.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.