Inside Out (Australia)
sichuan braised eggplant
SERVES 2 OR 4—6 AS PART OF A SPREAD
Traditionally, this is made with some pork mince added to the mix, but I love it as a vegetarian option and quite like to serve it with crispy fried tofu and steamed rice on the side. It is dead easy to make – nothing actually fancy about it, other than the taste, which is nothing short of glorious – and it is something I imagine you would share as part of a spread of delicious dishes to gorge on banquet-style.
2 tbsps rapeseed oil
1 large eggplant (aubergine),
cut into large cubes
5 black garlic cloves, sliced 8cm piece ginger, sliced and
½ tbsp roughly crushed
Sichuan peppercorns 1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar 80ml (⅓ cup) vegetable or
1 tbsp chilli bean paste
Freshly snipped chives Steamed rice
Flash-fried firm tofu (optional)
1 Set your slow cooker to the sauté function. Add the oil and, once hot, cook the eggplant in batches for about 5 minutes, turning regularly until starting to brown on the edges and soften. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute until fragrant.
2 Add the remaining ingredients, stir to coat, then turn the slow cooker to low. Close the lid and cook for 1 hour.
3 Gently turn the eggplant mixture out onto a serving plate and top with the chives. Serve piping hot with steamed rice and some flash-fried tofu, if using.
“You can use your slow cooker for all sorts of interesting things, from poaching and steaming to smoking, melting and brining — the possibilities seem to be endless”