- 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil, to deep-fry
- 1 eggplant, cut into 10 cm-long thick wedges
- 6 spring onions, cut into 4 cm lengths
- 2 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red bird’s-eye chilli, sliced on the diagonal
- 1½ tbsp hot chilli sauce
- 125 ml (½ cup) chicken stock
- 1½ tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (chinkiang) (see Note)
- 1½ tsp cornflour
- steamed rice, to serve
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.
DRINK (Tea) Long Jing Tea — no bitterness, very aromatic and clean. (Wine) 2010 Mengoba Brezo Tinto Mencía Bierzo, Spain — a medium-bodied red wine with fresh berry characters and a soft tannic backbone.
The dish is designed to be part of a banquet or shared meal.
Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or saucepan and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in 3 batches, gently drop eggplant into the oil and fry, turning halfway, for 8 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Discard all but 1 tbsp of oil from wok and place over high heat. Add spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli and chilli sauce, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Stir in eggplant, stock, sugar, vinegar and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes or until eggplant is tender and sauce is slightly reduced.
Combine cornflour and 1 tbsp water in a bowl. Add to eggplant mixture and cook, stirring, for a further minute or until sauce starts to thicken slightly and is glossy. Serve with steamed rice.
• Chinese black vinegar (chinkiang) is available from Asian food shops.
Also written by Xiang Le Chen. Photography by Derek Swalwell. Tea and wine suggestions by Kaki Wong, Yanan Zhou, Susan Wilks and Oliver Wang.