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Aubergine in Spicy Sauce

Aubergines are given a royal treatment in this recipe, where they are stir-fried with seasonings more commonly associated with fish cooking.
Soaking dried chillies in water will reduce their spicy flavour. If you prefer a milder chilli taste, soak for longer than the recommended 10 minutes.

ingredients

serves 4
450 g (1 lb) aubergines
3 - 4 whole dried red chillies, soaked in water for 10 minutes
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5 ml (1 tsp) finely chopped fresh ginger
5 ml (1 tsp) finely chopped spring onion, white part only
115 g (4 oz) lean pork, thinly shredded (optional)
15 ml (1 tbsp) light soy sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) light brown sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) chilli bean sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
15 ml (1 tbsp) rice vinegar
10 ml (2 tsp) cornflour paste
5 ml (1 tsp) finely chopped spring onions, green part only, to garnish
few drops sesame oil

method

1. Cut the aubergines into short strips the size of chips — the skin can either be peeled off or left on, whichever you prefer. Cut the soaked red chillies into two or three small pieces and discard the seeds.

2. Heat the oil in a preheated wok and deep fry the aubergine chips for about 3 - 4 minutes or until limp. Remove and drain.

3. Pour off the excess oil, leaving about 15 ml (1 tbsp) in the wok. Add the garlic, ginger, white spring onions and chillies, stir a few times, then add the pork, if using. Stir-fry the meat for about 1 minute or until it becomes pale, almost white, in colour. Add all the seasonings, then increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.

4. Add the aubergines to the wok, I blend well and braise for 30 - 40 seconds, then thicken the sauce with the cornflour paste, stirring until smooth. Garnish with the green spring onions and sprinkle with sesame oil.

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