Chinese cooks rarely steam vegetables, preferring to either blanch them quickly in hot, lightly salted water or to stir-fry them quickly in the wok. However, aubergines do lend themselves to steaming. They are rarely baked, as most Chinese homes lack ovens, but steaming them whole and then covering them with a tasty sauce is not only easy but also a very nutritious way of enjoying aubergines. Steaming brings out the subtle taste and texture of the aubergines, which have enough robustness to stand up to an assertive sauce. Try to get the Chinese variety if you can; you will find them slightly sweeter. This is a most enjoyable vegetarian recipe.
If you are using the Chinese aubergines, leave them whole. If you are using the ordinary large variety, trim and cut them in half and score them on the skin side by cutting diagonal crossways indentations.
Next, set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok or deep pan and fill it with
Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the ginger and spring onions and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat down and cook uncovered for 2 minutes and pour the sauce over the aubergines. Garnish with the chopped spring onion tops and serve at once.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.