Recipe: Braised Aubergine with Tofu

This classic Chinese dish is often served as the vegetable dish during a family meal. To increase the spiciness just increase the amount of fermented chilli paste added to the sauce. The aubergine is first coated with salt and then left to remove some of the moisture before cooking. This prevents the aubergine from getting too soggy during cooking and the sauce from getting too thin.


Ingredients

900g aubergine, ideally Chinese aubergine if you can find it
100g table salt
2tbsp vegetable oil
6ea cloves of garlic, 2 whole cloves lightly crushed with the back of a knife and 4 thinly sliced
2ea spring onions, thinly sliced
3tbsp pickled Sichuan vegetables
350g firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
2tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Sauce Ingredients:
2tsp black vinegar (Chinkiang Vinegar)
150ml Wing Yip Shao Hsing Wine
1tbsp corn starch
3tbsp Wing Yip Light Soy Sauce
2tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp fermented chilli paste
1tbsp Wing Yip Pure Sesame Oil

Cooking Method

Serves 4

1. Cut the aubergine into roughly 2-inch cubes and place into a colander. Sprinkle over the salt and mix thoroughly to ensure that the aubergine is evenly coated. Leave for at least 30 minutes, but ideally for 1 hour.

2. Rinse the aubergine thoroughly to ensure that any remaining salt is removed and then pat dry with kitchen paper.

3. Place into a steamer with a lid which has been carefully placed over boiling water. Cook for the aubergine for 10-15 minutes, or until completely soft. Carefully remove the steamer from over the boiling water and set aside.

4. Whilst the aubergine is cooking, in a bowl combine the sauce ingredients and whisk until the corn starch has dissolved and then set aside.

5. Once the aubergine has steamed and the sauce has been mixed, heat a clean wok over a medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the 2 lightly crushed whole garlic cloves and stir-fry until lightly golden. This should take approximately 5 minutes. If the garlic cloves are browning too quickly, turn down the heat.

6. Remove the garlic cloves and discard as these were used to flavour the oil. Turn up the heat to high and add the thinly sliced garlic, white parts of the spring onions and the pickled Sichuan vegetables. Stir-fry for 1 minute and then add the sauce mixture to the wok being careful not to let any of the ingredients burn. Constantly stir until the sauce ingredients have fully incorporated.

7. Add the steamed aubergine to the sauce and then carefully add the cubed tofu. Gently fold all the ingredients through the sauce and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and then aubergine and tofu are piping hot.

8. Serve immediately with boiled jasmine rice and garnish with the spring onion greens and the coriander.