Happy New Year All,

I'm sure some of you have had your fair share of booze and over indulgence of meat over the festive holidays and probably planning to cut down on both in the new year.

If you are going meat free this January you definitely need to try out this Sichuan dish - Fish Fragrant Aubergine!

It really is a vegan dish! The reason for the name Fish Fragrant Aubergine is that the ingredients used for making this dish were often used with fish.

You may not be a fan of aubergine as it is usually seen as a pretty bland vegetable but this super tasty, spicy, sweet'n'sour Sichuan dish might make you change your mind about aubergine forever!

The aubergine is cut into chunky pieces, fried so it soaks up the mouthwatering sauce.

Here's how to make this dish...

~ Fish Fragrant Aubergine ~


• 2 aubergines - cut into approx 2cm x 7cm chunky pieces
• 4 cloves of garlic - crushed
• 2 cm knob of ginger - finely sliced into strips
• 2 tbsp chilli bean sauce (Toban Djan)
• 1.5 tbsp sugar
• 2 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (black rice vinegar)
• 2 tsp light soy sauce
• 150ml water
• cornflour mix - 1.5 tbsp cornflour, 1.5 tbsp water & mix
• 4 spring onions - thinly sliced
• vegetable oil
• salt to taste


- Sprinkle 1 tbsp of salt over the aubergine in a large bowl, mix well and leave for 30 mins (this will draw out the moisture & firm the flesh) then rinse & pat dry.

- In a wok, use veg oil to deep fry the aubergine chunks in a couple of batches for 5-8 mins on a medium to high heat till flesh turns slightly brown & turns soft. Once done place fried aubergine on top of kitchen paper to drain off the oil. Safely remove veg oil to another container.

- Reheat wok and add 3 tbsp of veg oil. Once hot add the chilli bean sauce, garlic, ginger and stir fry for 5 mins on a medium heat. Make sure you don’t burn any of the ingredients. The paste will sizzle & you should start to smell the spices. Add sugar, chinkiang vinegar, light soy sauce, water & stir until sugar dissolves. Add aubergines, stir & make sure sauce covers all the aubergine.

- Cover & cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the cornflour mix (you may not need to use all the mix) until you get a gravy consistency. Add additional salt to taste at this point. Add most of the spring onions, stir then serve. Sprinkle remaining spring onions to garnish.

- Serve with steamed fragrant rice.

Additional notes:

- you must use chilli bean sauce (Toban Djan) for this dish if not it will not taste right

- If you cannot get Chinkiang vinegar you can substitute it with balsamic vinegar

- If you are going to get light soy sauce get the proper one, not the western supermarket brands. It's actually sometimes cheaper and much better quality. I would suggest the Lee Kum Kee brand.

You should be able to find most of the ingredients in your local supermarket if not local Chinese/Asian supermarket. Here are some local Chinese/Asian supermarkets near Forest Gate - Loon Fung (Old Stratford Centre), Longdan (Leyton, E10 7JN) & New New Chinese (Maryland).

This is one of my favourite vegan dishes and it's not expensive to make. To give you an idea of costs - a 368g jar of Lee Kum Kee chilli bean sauce will be £2-2.50, a 550ml bottle of Chinkiang Vinegar is around £2 and a 500ml bottle of Lee Kum Kee Premium Light Soy Sauce is also around £2. Only a small amount of each is needed for the Fish Fragrant Aubergine dish and the rest can be used for other dishes.


Xuan will be back hosting her Casual Rice Steamboat Station Supper Club at Tracks on Saturday 4th March book your tickets here and for further info follow @casual_rice