This recipe was inspired by an article by Terry Durack in the Good Weekend magazine about Chinese pickles. A similar article with recipes by Sui Ling Hui appeared in the Epicure section of The Age many years ago. Her recipes included Steamed Fish with Preserved Vegetable and Steamed Chicken with Sichuan Cabbage. Although I am very Australian in origin, I still like these pickles and preserves and so started checking out some other recipe books.
I found Bowl Steamed Aubergines with Winter-Sacrifice Beans & Salted Greens in Fuchsia Dunlop's book "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook" and thought "Yes". But then, I don't know how many people would be bothered trying the dish, so found Sichuan-Style Spicy Eggplant in a Murdoch Book entilted "The Food of China, a journey for foodlovers". The ingredients are likely to be found in most of the pantries of the readers (if there are any) of this recipe.
If you have not tried steamed eggplant, then please try steaming it and using whatever sauce you like. Steaming gives it an unctuous mouthfeel that I love, think okra - now some of you have left the page, more for me.
The recipe is apparently best done with thin Chinese, if you can source them, or even Japanese eggplants. I just had an ordinary old fat eggplant in the fridge, but it tasted beautiful (just have to trust me on that). You are supposed to peel the eggplant, but I only peeled half to see what variation there is - it was OK with the unpeeled sections, but much better when peeled. So do peel them.
Sichuan-Style Spicy Eggplant
500 g Chinese eggplants or thin eggplants
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons clear rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 spring onion (shallot for NSW), chopped
1 teaspoon chilli bean paste (toban jiang)
Peel the eggplants and trim off the ends. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways and cut each half into strips 2 cm thick. Cut the strips into 5 cm lengths. Place the eggplant in a bowl, add the salt and toss lightly, then set aside for 1 hour. Pour off any water that has accumulated.
Arrange the eggplant on a heatproof plate that will fit into the Varoma. Place inside the Varoma and cover. Add 700ml water to the Thermomix bowl, place Varoma on top and set to 25 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 3. Check to see if the eggplant is tender. You may need to go for 5 more minutes, depending on the breed and age of the eggplant. Empty water out of Thermomix bowl and lightly clean.
Place the garlic cloves into the Thermomix bowl and crush the cloves for 5 seconds at speed 7. Add the remaining ingredients into the Thermomix bowl, mix for 5 seconds at speed 3 then pour the sauce over the eggplant, tossing lightly to coat.