When slow cooked, this eggplant meal takes on a really lovely, velvety texture. Serve on its own, with rice and steamed greens, or as part of a banquet. Make sure you get salt-reduced stock, otherwise it's salty as hell.
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) peanut oil
- 3 small eggplant, each cut into 8 wedges
- 150 gm minced pork
- 1 tbsp coarsely crushed Sichuan peppercornss
- 25 gm ginger, coarsely chopped and pounded with a mortar and pestle to a paste
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp Chinese chilli bean paste
- 100 ml chicken stock, salt-reduced
- 60 ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) Chinkiang vinegar
- To serve: coarsely chopped coriander, thinly sliced spring onions, prickly ash oil and steamed jasmine rice
Preheat oven to 150C. Heat 50ml oil in a casserole dish over high heat. Brush eggplant with remaining oil and cook in batches, turning, until golden (3-5 minutes).
Add pork to pan and stir occasionally until cooked (3-5 minutes). Add peppercorns and stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then add ginger, garlic and chilli bean paste, and stir until colour deepens (1-2 minutes). Add stock, soy sauce and vinegar, and bring to the boil, then add eggplant, cover with a lid or foil and braise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove cover and braise until eggplant is very tender (45 minutes to 1 hour).
Serve hot scattered with coriander and spring onions, dotted with prickly ash oil to taste, and with steamed rice to the side.