Spicy Sichuan aubergine and minced beef

Now for one of my favourite all time dishes that’s very easy to make (and eat!). It’s a tangy, spicy Sichuan recipe for aubergine, to which you can add minced pork, beef and even tofu or chicken. I adore any Chinese recipe for braised aubergine, where the aubergines soak up all the delicious sauces. I used the minced beef from my Farmison meat box to create this dish.

You will need:

  • 300g minced beef (or pork)
  • 1 aubergine, diced
  • Sesame oil
  • Spring onion, chopped finely – white and green parts separated
  • 1 tbsp spicy chilli bean paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine (or sherry)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • Cornstarch

Start by heating some sesame oil in a deep pan and frying the minced ginger, spring onions, garlic, chilli and the chilli bean paste. NB I like to use the two parts of the spring onion separately – cooking the white part and saving the green for garnish. It should immediately fill your kitchen with a pungent aroma! Interestingly, I swapped a fresh red chilli for one of the dried chipotle chillis that I had in the store cupboard – this dialled down the spiciness and gave a nice smokiness to the flavour (which really works well with aubergine).

Now add the minced beef and brown all over. Add the aubergine to the pan, where it will gradually soak up the juices from the beef. Now add the rice wine, vinegar, sugar and stock and bring it all to the boil. Control the amount of stock depending on how much sauce you like – I like loads to go on top of my rice. I also added a secret ingredient which you can omit if you like: a drop of fish sauce to really play off the tanginess of the vinegar and chilli.

Simmer for about 20 minutes, and just before you’re ready to serve add a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Garnish the dish with the green parts of the spring onion, and serve topped on white rice.

This dishes serves many as part of Chinese meal with variety, or it could serve 2-3 as a main meal. It’s very much a ‘tastes better the next day’ as the aubergines absorb all the flavours.

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