Of the many dishes I enjoyed in Beijing, this was among the most pleasing. Aubergine, of which there are many varieties, was introduced many centuries ago, probably from India. They are best eaten immediately after being picked as they can quickly become quite bitter. The ones that the Qu family served me were in season and at their peak of flavour. Stuffing added substance to the subtle aubergine taste and frying gave them a crusty exterior. Enjoy them straight from the wok, for they tend to soften up if they sit too long, though they remain delicious. The stuffing can be made well ahead of time, but dip the vegetables in the batter only when you are about to fry them.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the batter ingredients until smooth and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the pork, prawns, onions, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, sesame oil, salt, and pepper and mix together thoroughly.
Slice the aubergines into
Heat a wok or large frying pan with the oil. Using cooking tongs and chopsticks, dip the stuffed rounds into the batter and then drop each gently into the hot oil. Be careful of splatters. Place as many rounds into the wok as will fit easily on one layer. Turn them gently and fry them until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked inside, about 4 minutes. Adjust your heat to keep the oil very hot but not enough to burn the rounds. Remove the rounds with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Cook and serve the aubergine rounds in several batches so they are always hot and crispy.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.