Fragrant Roast Aubergine with Chicken

I often spend at least two weeks of my summer holiday with my good friends the Pébeyres, who have a country home outside Souillac in south-west France. One of the great pleasures is plucking fresh produce from their gardens to create Asian-inspired dishes. They frequently have fresh aubergines, so one evening I combined them with chicken in a spicy sauce with mint that also happened to be handy. The result was a popular and tasty dish that I have subsequently cooked often for other friends.

To cut down the fat, I first roast the aubergines in the oven, instead of frying them in the traditional Chinese way. This way, they don’t absorb any oil. This step can be done hours in advance and the rest is a quick and easy stir-fry

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) Chinese or ordinary aubergines
  • 450 g (1 lb) skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 900 g (2 lb) chicken thighs with bone in
  • tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon chilli bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Small handful of mint leaves

For the Marinade

  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

If you are using Chinese aubergines, roast them for 20 minutes and if you are using the large aubergines, roast them for about 30-40 minutes or until they are soft and cooked through. Allow them to cool. Peel them and if using larger aubergines cut them into chunks, then put them in a colander and let them drain for at least 30 minutes. This procedure can be done hours in advance.

If you are using unboned thighs, remove the skin and bones from the chicken thighs or have your butcher do it for you. Cut the chicken into 2.5-cm (1-in) chunks and combine it in a bowl with the light soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, sesame oil and cornflour.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan until it is very hot, add the oil, then the chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the wok and drain off all but 2 teaspoons of the oil or fat. Return the drained chicken to the wok with the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Then add the aubergines and all the remaining ingredients, except the mint leaves. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the chicken is cooked. Add the mint leaves and give the mixture a good stir. Pour on to a warm platter and serve at once.

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