Fish Fragrant Eggplant, a Sichuan dish made with aubergines in a fragrant and slightly spicy sauce. The name of the dish comes from the way the dish is cooked and contains no fish.
Ingredients of Note
Shaoxing wine is a rice wine that’s used extensively in Chinese cuisine. It adds a complex richness to dishes, similar to using white wine in western cuisines. Asian supermarkets usually stock more than one variety. Larger supermarkets can also stock a small range. One thing to watch out for is salt level. Shaoxing wine sometimes has added salt. If yours has salt consider adding less soy sauce to dishes.
Chilli bean paste (doubanjiang) is a spicy and savoury condiment made with fermented broad beans and chillies. It’s used extensively in Sichuan cuisine, used in classic dishes such as Mapo Tofu and Fish Fragrant Eggplant. It can be found in Asian supermarkets and sometimes in larger supermarkets. It’s usually named chilli bean paste. Look for labels that say Doubanjiang or Toban-djan.
Chinese black vinegar is a dark vinegar with a mild but complex flavour. Look for bottles labelled as Chinkiang Vinegar or Zhenjiang Vinegar in Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find black vinegar then a balsamic vinegar that’s not too sweet and syrupy is a good substitute.
Serving Fish Fragrant Eggplant
Vegan Fish Fragrant Eggplant
- 400 g Chinese aubergine* or regular aubergine
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 200 g shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoon chilli bean paste
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 3 spring onions finely sliced
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon black vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fine white sugar
- 2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine*
- ½ teaspoon msg optional
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Begin by washing the aubergine then cutting them into 6cm long pieces, quarter the pieces longwise to get 6cm long batons.
- Steam the aubergine until soft but before they fall apart. This will take around 10 minutes.
- While the aubergine is cooking prepare the sauce.
- Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Clean the shiitake mushrooms then finely chop them into a small mince like texture.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil then fry the mushrooms until they have released all their moisture and are starting to turn golden, around 6 minutes.
- Add the chilli bean paste and stir to coat the mushrooms. Cook until the oil had turned a deep red colour, around 2 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and ginger and the white parts of the spring onions. Cook until fragrant, around 1 minute.
- Now thoroughly mix the sauce ingredients in the bowl so the cornflour is properly incorporated as it will have sunk to the bottom.
- Add the sauce to the pan and mix together to coat everything. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened, around 1 minute.
- Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Once the aubergine is cooked. Carefully remove from the steamer then add it to the sauce. Do this gently to try and keep the aubergine from breaking apart too much.
- Check for seasoning then serve with white jasmine rice or as a side dish on its own.
- If you can’t source Chinese aubergine then you can use regular aubergine. Cut into similar sized batons.
- Shaoxing wine sometimes has added salt, if yours has salt consider adding less soy sauce to dishes.