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stir fried pork and eggplant

Stir-fries are great for so many reasons. They’re fast, essentially a one pot meal and usually done in about the time it takes to cook rice.

I have a new favourite weeknight meal. It’s especially good after a long day as it’s done and dusted in 20 minutes. While leafing through Neil Perry’s Balance & Harmony, which I have to admit has got to be one the most under-utilised cookbooks in my collection – it has so many recipes for all skill levels – I found this recipe for minced pork and eggplant.

It’s a popular one at many Chinese restaurants, though depending on your luck and the restaurant, it can be stodgy as many restaurants add cornflour to thicken the sauce. Home made always tastes better, and this is no exception. It’s well-flavoured, slightly spicy and a touch salty – perfect for eating with rice.

The recipe says to use pork belly mince, which can be difficult to find in small quantities. Opt for regular pork mince with a higher fat content for true Chinese style eating, or if you’re looking for the healthier option there’s supermarket mince which is usually lower in fat, but it just doesn’t quite taste the same. Asian grocers often also have pre-packaged pork mince that’s perfect for this – just make sure it’s fresh. I’ve included the substitutes for a vegetarian/vegan option as well.

If you’re in Canberra, the rather unfriendly lady at Saigon Asian Grocery in Dickson takes delivery of fresh pork mince on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Stir Fried Pork and Eggplant
serves 4
adapted from Balance & Harmony*

300g minced pork, use pork belly if you can get it (or substitute diced mixed mushrooms for vegetarians)
2 medium eggplants, cut into large dice
vegetable oil, for deep frying
4 spring onions, sliced
6cm knob of ginger, peeled and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
1-2 tbsp chilli bean paste, depending how hot you like it
4 tbsp shao hsing (chinese cooking wine)
1½ tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp sugar
150ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
½ tsp Szechuan pepper
2 spring onions, finely sliced (for garnish)

  1. Heat the oil in a wok until almost smoking. Deep fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown, then drain on paper towel.
  2. Carefully pour out most of the oil, leaving about 2 tbsp remaining in the wok. Add the minced pork and stir-fry until the meat begins to colour.
  3. Add the spring onions, ginger, garlic and chilli bean paste and stir-fry until fragrant.
  4. Deglaze the wok with shao hsing, then add soy sauce, sugar and chicken stock.
  5. Return the eggplant to the wok and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, then add the szechuan pepper and stir through.
  6. Serve topped with finely sliced spring onions.

*this recipe will always need tweaking depending on the saltiness of the chilli bean paste and soy sauce you use. If in doubt, add half the amount and add to taste.