- 2 T canola oil
- 200 g baby brinjals, trimmed and quartered lengthways
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 x 2.5 cm piece ginger, finely grated
- 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 T chilli bean paste
- 200 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
- a small handful coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves separated
- cooked jasmine rice, for serving
- For the sauce:
- ½ cup cold vegetable stock
- 1 T tamari or low-sodium light soya sauce
- 1 T Chinese black rice vinegar
- 1 toasted sesame oil
- a pinch caster sugar
- 1 T cornflour
1. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a jug. Stir well and set aside until needed.
2. Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking, then add 1 T canola oil. Once hot, add the brinjal and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until browned. As you cook it, keep adding drops of water, up to about 3 T in total. This will create steam to help soften the brinjal (much healthier than frying it in lots of oil).
3. Once cooked, transfer the brinjal to a plate and set aside. Return the empty wok to the heat and add the remaining canola oil. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and chilli bean paste and stir for a few seconds.
4. Return the cooked brinjal to the wok and add the shiitake mushrooms. Pour over the sauce and bring to the bubble, cooking for 3–4 minutes on a high heat until the sauce thickens. Stir in the spring onions and coriander stalks. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve immediately with jasmine rice.
Cook's note: This warming, comforting meal hails from the Sichuan province in China. It’s a go-to staple for a midweek supper. Brinjals are rich in vitamin E and shiitake mushrooms are full of antioxidants. To mix it up, I sometimes switch the shiitake for smoked tofu – both are equally good.
This is an extract from Asian Green by Ching-He Huang. It is published by Kyle Books and is distributed in SA by Jonathan Ball Publishers. Find it at good bookstores for R475.
Photographs: Tamin Jones