Photo: Charlotte Mei
Spicy 'Fish' Fragrant Eggplant Recipe by Charlotte Mei
This is a dish that is a must-order for me whenever I’m at a Chinese restaurant. It goes dangerously well with rice, and I can’t get enough of it! I’ve added crumbled firm tofu to mimic the minced meat that is used in traditional recipes, and to also add lean protein to the dish.
Fun fact: the Chinese name for the dish (鱼香茄子) translates to ‘fish fragrant eggplant’, but no fish (or even fish sauce) is used in this recipe or the original! It is named as such because the flavor profile is similar to that of most traditional Szechuan dishes.
I use the longer/slimmer variety of eggplants, otherwise known as the Japanese/Asian eggplant. If you can’t get these, the rounder Italian eggplants are fine too.
- Makes: 2 Servings
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, chopped into chunks
- 80 grams firm tofu, crumbled
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp Dou Ban Jiang sauce
- Vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (optional)
- 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar/Chin Kiang vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- Sesame oil
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Red Chilli, sliced (optional)
- Firstly, prepare the eggplant. Eggplants are spongy, meaning they are great at absorbing the sauce they’re in, but it also means they can absorb a lot of oil and get really greasy by the time they’re fully cooked. To help with this, soak the eggplant chunks in some salted water for 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and coat evenly with 2 tbsp cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, coat the crumbled firm tofu in 1 tbsp cornstarch, and set aside.
- In another small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce, and set aside.
- Add 2 tbsp oil to a wok or pan and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the eggplants in a single layer, flipping from time to time, until it turns soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- In the same wok, fry the ginger, garlic and Dou Ban Jiang sauce in 1 tbsp oil until fragrant.
- Add in the crumbled tofu and fry until well coated. Then, add in the eggplant and stir to mix.
- Finally, add in the sauce and cook until well incorporated. If it’s too dry you may add some water. If you’d like more sauce, you can prepare a cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water).
- Serve with scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil.