Sichuan chilli eggplant and soya beans

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Preparation Time 10 minutes (+ 1 hour standing)
Cooking time hours

Feel free to adjust the amount of chilli, depending on your heat tolerance. Cubes of firm tofu or green beans can be used in place of the soya beans.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz) eggplants (aubergine), quartered lengthways then cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) slices
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/¼ cup) Chinese rice wine
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/¼ cup) vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) light soy sauce
  • tablespoons malt vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, white and pale parts kept separate from green parts
  • 220 g ( oz/ cups) frozen shelled soya beans (edamame), thawed (see Tip)
  • roasted peanuts, sliced long red chilli, chopped coriander (cilantro) and steamed rice, to serve

Method

Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and set aside in a large colander set over a bowl for 1 hour.

Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towel.

Meanwhile, put the Sichuan peppercorns in a cold, small frying pan over medium heat. Toast, stirring so they don’t burn, for 3–4 minutes until fragrant. Coarsely crush.

Working in batches, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium–high heat and sear a third of the eggplant for 2 minutes each side, then transfer to the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining oil and eggplant.

In a bowl, combine the peppercorns, garlic, ginger, rice wine, oyster sauce, chilli flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornflour, the white and pale parts of the spring onions and 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water. Whisk well, then transfer to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 2¼ hours.

Stir in the soya beans and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Scatter with the spring onion greens, peanuts, chilli and coriander, then serve with rice.