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Sichuan chilli eggplant and soybeans

Try this great recipe from 'Whole Food Slow Cooked' author and slow cooker champion Olivia Andrews

by Psychologies

Sichuan eggplant recipe

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 soybeans.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes + 1 hour standing

Cooking time: 2¾ hours (slow cooker) 1 hour (stovetop)

Ingredients:

1.25kg (eggplants (aubergine), quartered lengthways then cut into 3cm slices

1½ tablespoons sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted, coarsely crushed

2 tsp finely grated ginger

4 tbsp Chinese rice wine

4 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp chilli flakes

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1½ tbsp malt vinegar

1 tbsp coconut sugar or raw sugar

1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced, white and pale parts kept separate from green parts

220g frozen shelledsoybeans (edamame), thawed

Roasted peanuts, sliced red chilli, chopped coriander (cilantro) and steamed rice, to serve

Method:

In the slow cooker

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

2. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towel. 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.

3. In a bowl, combine the garlic, peppercorns, ginger, rice wine, oyster sauce, chilli flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornflour, the white and pale green 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, then stir in the soybeans and cook for a further 15 minutes.

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

On the stovetop

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

2. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towel. Working in batches, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan 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, then return all the eggplant to the pan.

3. In a bowl, combine the garlic, peppercorns, ginger, rice wine, oyster sauce, chilli flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornflour, the white and pale green parts of the spring onions and 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water. Whisk well, then add to the saucepan. Cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes until the eggplant is tender. Stir in the soybeans and cook for 5 minutes to warm through.

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

Whole Food Slow Cooked by Olivia Andrews (Murdoch Books, £14.99) is out now

Photograph: Steve Brown