Cantonese-style Steamed Aubergine

I am always surprised at how most Westerners think we Chinese steam our vegetables. In fact, we prefer either to blanch them quickly in hot, lightly salted water or to stir-fry them quickly in the wok. This is one of the few recipes in which aubergine is actually steamed instead of stir-fried. Steaming it whole and then covering it with a tasty sauce is not only easy, but also a very nutritious way of enjoying the vegetable, and certainly less greasy.

It is worth trying to get the Chinese variety if you can: you will find it slightly sweeter.


  • 450 g (1 lb) Chinese aubergine or ordinary aubergine
  • 1Β½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions, white part only
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1Β½ tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish


If you are using Chinese aubergine, leave it whole. If you are using the ordinary purple variety, trim it, cut it in half lengthways and score the skin side by cutting diagonal crossways slashes.

Next, set up a steamer, or put a rack into a wok or deep pan, and fill it with 5 cm (2 in) of water. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat. Put the aubergine on a heatproof plate and carefully lower it into the steamer or onto the rack. Turn the heat to low and cover the wok or pan tightly. Steam gently for 30–40 minutes, or until the aubergine is very soft to the touch. Remove from the wok, sprinkle the ginger and spring onions evenly over the aubergine, then drizzle the soy sauce all over.

Clean out the wok and wipe it dry. Heat the wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut and sesame oils and, when the oil is very hot and slightly smoking, drizzle it over the aubergines. Garnish with the fresh coriander and serve at once.