This Shanghainese appetiser is absurdly easy to make and wondrously satisfying. Steaming brings out a gentle, unfamiliar side to a vegetable that is more commonly fried, baked or grilled, and, simple as they are, the seasonings taste sublime. Use Mediterranean aubergines or, if you can find them, the slender purple Chinese variety. I was introduced to this recipe by my Shanghainese friend Jason Li.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (42 votes)


  • 500 g aubergines
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1½ tbsp thinly sliced spring onion (scallion), green parts only
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cut the aubergines lengthways into 1 cm slices, then cut these into 1 cm strips. Cut the strips into bite-sized lengths and pile them into a bowl that will fit inside your steamer basket. Place the bowl in the steamer basket and steam over a high flame for 20 minutes, until tender. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.

Shortly before you wish to serve them, pile the aubergines in a serving dish and top them with the garlic, ginger and spring onion. Heat the oil in a seasoned wok or saucepan over a high flame until it is very hot. Carefully ladle the hot oil over the garlic, ginger and spring onions – it should produce a dramatic sizzle. Pour over the soy sauce mixture. Stir the seasonings gently into the aubergines and serve.


Recipes and images from Land of Fish and Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, $49.99, hbk).

View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.

Get Fuchsia 's top tips for Chinese home cooking - and where next regional Chinese we’ve yet to discover, but should - here