Sichuan Aubergines

Photo Credit: Tara Fisher

Serves 4
Total Time
1 Hour 30 Minutes
For the Aubergines
4 large aubergines (about 1.2kg), topped and tailed
100ml of vegetable oil
400g of fat udon noodles
4 spring onions, finely sliced
Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
For the Sauce
3 tsp of cornflour
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 tbsp of Sichuan chilli bean paste
2 large red dried chillies, crumbled (you can use Sichuan, Mexican chile de arbol, Italian pepperoncino or even chilli flakes)
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250ml of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp of Shaoxing wine or Manzanilla sherry
1-2 tbsp of soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp of brown rice vinegar
Step 1

Cut the aubergines into rounds about 1-2cm thick and then cut the rounds in half. Sprinkle them with a little fine sea salt and leave to drain in a colander in the sink or on the draining board for at least 30 minutes, to draw out any excess water.

Step 2

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7. When the aubergines are drained, tip into a roasting tin, toss them well in the vegetable oil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes until they are completely soft and temptingly golden on the outside.

Step 3

Meanwhile get the sauce ready. Mix the cornflour with two tbsp of water. Heat the oil in a large wok and, when hot, add the chilli bean sauce. As soon as it starts sizzling, add the chillies, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a minute or so, taking care not to burn the chillies and garlic. If necessary take the wok off the heat for a few minutes.

Step 4

Pour in the stock and cornflour paste and cook for a few minutes to allow the sauce to thicken, then add the sherry, sugar and vinegar and simmer together for a few minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

Step 5

Meanwhile, cook the udon noodles according to the packet instructions. Serve with the aubergines in warmed shallow bowls with the sauce poured over and scattered with the spring onions and coriander.

Home Cook: Over 300 Delicious Fuss-Free Recipes by Thomasina Miers (Guardian Faber, £25) is out now.

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