Aubergines are one of my favourite vegetables. I love their colour, taste and texture. Their subtle flavour is receptive to a good zesty sauce, such as this one from Western China. It's worth trying to get the small, long thin Chinese aubergines for their sweet taste. However, this recipe also works perfectly well with the large European variety. The Chinese prefer to leave the skin on because it holds the aubergine together throughout the cooking and because the skins are tender, tasty and nutritious, but your preference may be for the skinned version.
Two techniques are employed here: a quick stir-frying to blend the seasonings, and braising which cooks the aubergines and makes a sauce in which the aubergines are served. The result is a tender and distinctively flavoured vegetable dish.
1. Trim and cut the aubergines into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes. Sprinkle the cubes with salt and leave them in a sieve to drain for 20 minutes. Then rinse them under cold running water and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
2. Heat a wok or large frying-pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry them for 30 seconds, then add the aubergines and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat down and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the aubergine is tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Return the heat to high and continue to stir until the liquid has been reduced and has thickened slightly. Turn the mixture onto a serving dish and garnish with the chopped spring onions tops.
Our thanks to Lee Kum Kee and Ken Hom for providing this recipe
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