This dish does not taste “fishy,” but it does use the spices and seasonings usually employed when preparing fish: hot, sour, salty, and sweet at the same time. It sounds (and tastes) very Sichuan and indeed it is. This delightful version is from the Shu Feng Yuan restaurant/collective in Chengdu, Sichuan. Unlike other versions I have eaten in Europe, North America, and Hong Kong, this one used whole aubergines. The smaller variously coloured varieties used in China are generally the tastiest.
If using ordinary aubergines, cut into quarters lengthways. Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil, and when it is hot, deep-fry the aubergines whole. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on kitchen paper. Arrange them on a serving platter.
Pour off most of the oil, leaving 3 tablespoons, and reheat the wok. Add the pork, garlic, ginger, and spring onions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Put in the rest of the ingredients, except the stock. Continue to cook for 2 minutes over high heat, then add the stock and simmer for another 3 minutes.
Add the aubergines and simmer in the sauce for 3 minutes and serve at once.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.