HOLY SMOKE peeps, these are on.the.money. if you’re looking for something hot, something vegetarian and something addictive that is not chocolate or doughnuts. And well, savoury.
I first tried these at an amazing eatery in Melbourne. Technically they should be way too hot for my palate but they work their own magic in making have another, and then another and then another. I then craved them for for ever and it was only sifting through Neil Perry’s book that I thought, hang on a minute, I think that’s them. I’m still yet to replicate that dish I had in Melbourne but it’s bloody close and that’ll have to do.
Here is my biggest tip in the whole Asian cooking thing. As far as I’m concerned it is the zenith for mis-en-place. Have all your ducks lined up in a row people, have it beside the stove and go go go. GO!
- 550 g Japanese eggplants
- 500 ml vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ knob ginger, finely chopped
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- 3 tbsp shaoxing
- 3 tbsp hot bean paste
- 2½ tbsp yellow bean soy sauce (I just used dark soy)
- 100 ml rice vinegar
- 65g (1/3 cup) crushed yellow rock sugar
- ½ tsp ground Szechuan pepper
- Cut the eggplants in half lengthways while the oil is heating in the wok
- Once it's smoking then deep-fry the eggplants until golden brown. This doesn't take that long, and I just turned them every so often. I often find deep-frying quite stressful with the whole, is it cooked enough, is the oil hot enough, too hot, blah blah blah. Now I use rice bran oil (much higher smoking point so good for deep frying) and wait until it's really smoking and then wing it. That's great advice hey. Just back yourself, ok? Ok.
- Discard the oil you cooked the eggplants in
- Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and once smoking add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Keep them moving and once you can really smell their goodness then add the shaoxing.
- Then add the chilli paste, soy, vinegar and sugar. (Have this all measured and in a bowl together so you can just toss it in.)
- Bring to the boil and cook for two minutes.
- Add the eggplants, mashing them slightly so they absorb more of the flavour and cook for another two minutes.
- Turn onto a plate and scatter over some more shallots and ground Szechuan pepper.