The incredible aroma of this dish fills up the air in our apartment, it brings me straight down to memory lane. This Braised Aubergine and Pork in Spicy Bean Sauce is definitely one of my favourite childhood dishes, whenever I cook this dish, the smell always reminds me of my mother’s cooking and our small compact kitchen in Macau.
Traditionally, this dish is cooked with dried cured salted fish which is a famous locally produced delicacy in Macau, which gives the dish an extra layer of intense umami flavour, hence its name 魚香茄子 ‘fish fragrant aubergine’. Unfortunately, I can’t get hold onto this amazing ingredient for my recipe I am sharing with you today, so I used dashi stock for the sauce instead, which still provides a subtle umami note to the whole dish. But if you don’t have dashi stock, just use water with a splash of fish sauce (optional) and it will still be brilliantly delicious!
- 2 Japanese (Asian) Aubergine, or 1 small globe aubergine if not available, peel lengthwise partially, then cut in strips (about 6cm long)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 slices of ginger
- 150g minced pork
- 1 heaped tbsp. spicy bean sauce
- 150ml dashi stock (or water)
- 1 tsp. Agave syrup (or a pinch of sugar)
- 1 tsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
- 1 tsp. cornstarch plus 1 tsp. water (plus more to make a paste)
- handful of coriander or basil (leaves picked) for garnish
- Vegetable oil
Warm about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a shallow non-stick pan (or wok), add aubergine and fry until golden brown and translucent in places, about 2-3 minutes on each side, add just a little bit of oil if the aubergine get too dry. You might need to do it in batches. Transfer the partially cooked aubergine on to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
In the same pan or wok, add one teaspoon of vegetable oil and add in the garlic and ginger. Fry in medium heat for about 1 minute or until fragrant and add in the minced pork. Turn the heat up to medium high and continue to sautéed the meat until it is almost cook through. Add the spicy bean sauce, then carefully pour in the dashi stock or water, followed by agave syrup, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Stir until everything is well combined. Add in the aubergine and stir well, let the content of the pan simmering in medium low heat for about 5-8 minutes or until the meat and aubergine are cooked through. Have a taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
While everything is bubbling away, slowly stream in the cornstarch water mixture and use a spatula to stir constantly to ensure no lump forms in the sauce. Once the sauce has thicken a bit, turn the heat off and transfer the aubergine and meat to a serving bowl or shallow dish. Garnish with coriander or basil leaves, served immediately with steamy Jasmine rice.