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Eggplant cooked in red sauce – Hongshao qiezi (红烧茄子)
Eggplant or aubergine is a staple in not only Yunnan cuisine but Chinese cuisine around the country. Similarly, soy sauce-based hongshao dishes are available all over China.
Two types of eggplant can be found at produce markets around China. The first is the plump, dark purple vegetable well known in the West, the second is a longer, thinner version with striking bright purple skin. The bright purple variant is more prevalent but it may be substituted with the other as taste does not differ between the two.
2 medium eggplants
5 sprigs of spring onion
2 small green Chinese capsicums*
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
Oil for frying
* Using zhoupi lajiao (皱皮辣椒) – a slightly spicy wrinkly-skinned variety of capsicum – is recommended for this dish. If zhoupi lajiao is unavailable, you can substitute with a standard green or red capsicum.
Slice off the top and then slice the eggplants into strips around 3 centimetres long. Wash and chop up the spring onion into two centimetre lengths and chop the capsicum into small pieces. Wash the ginger thoroughly and slice thinly, leaving the skin on. Peel the garlic and slice it thinly.
Heat 3 – 4 tablespoons of oil in a wok on high heat and add the eggplant. Stir thoroughly until the eggplant has taken up all of the oil, then fry for around five minutes, shifting the eggplant around occasionally but giving it time to cook without being disturbed.
Ultimately you want your eggplant to be browned on the outside and reasonably mushy, you will find it gives back a lot of the oil to the pan when ready.
Once cooked remove the eggplant to a plate, leaving the oil in the wok.
Lower the heat slightly and add the spring onion, capsicum, garlic and ginger to the wok. Stir fry them together for around a minute and then return the eggplant to the wok.
Add in the salt, pepper and soy sauce and stir to mix thoroughly. Transfer to a plate and serve.
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