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Grilled Aubergines with Ginger Spring Onion Oil

Smoky aubergine flesh meets a trifecta of Chinese flavours: ginger, spring onion and soy

Aubergine or eggplant is one of those divisive ingredients that you either love or hate (much like coriander or tofu). For us, it’s a simple love affair. We adore how the flesh can be tender and melty and juicy all at once – the kind of fleshiness that works as an amazing flavour sponge.

Which bring us to the sauce. It borrows from a very traditional Cantonese sauce that is always served with a type of poached chicken called bak chek gey, or literally, white chopped chicken. When making bak chek gey, one dunks the whole bird in the biggest stock pot of just-boiled water one can assemble. This invariably cools the water down so the process of reheating and redunking is repeated until the entire chicken is cooked through, which, as you can imagine, takes patience and tests your arm muscles.

But for your pains you are rewarded with what you’d expect from a gently cooked bird – the smoothest/silkiest/tendery-ist chicken flesh imaginable, without fear of a stringy bite. For the Chinese, this waat or slippery mouthfeel is much revered. However, as Chinese kids who had yet to learn how to appreciate mouthfeels, we’d say that the accompanying sauce was the star. For we would dip the chicken in again and again just to lap up more of the sauce.

The sauce takes the term ‘infused oil’ to another level. Ginger and spring onion are aromatic on their own, but when you hit them with smoking hot oil, they relent their most delicious parts to the liquid and you’re left with a pool of oil so infused with flavour that it’s visibly cloudy.

For bak chey gey, we’d simply season the sauce with salt and white pepper. But grilled aubergine begs for more. Something with more gusto and full of umami to enliven the juicy flesh and bring out its delicate sweetness. For a task like that, we always reach for soy sauce.

And so this dish was born. Aubergine wedges grilled to perfection then adorned with, very possibly, our favourite sauce ever.

Serves
4, as a side or with rice
Ingredients

2 small aubergines
vegetable oil for pan frying

For the sauce
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 large spring onion, finely sliced
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
7 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp light soy sauce, or to taste

Aubergine or eggplant is one of those divisive ingredients that you either love or hate (much like coriander or tofu). For us, it’s a simple love affair. We adore how the flesh can be tender and melty and juicy all at once – the kind of fleshiness that works as an amazing flavour sponge.

Which bring us to the sauce. It borrows from a very traditional Cantonese sauce that is always served with a type of poached chicken called bak chek gey, or literally, white chopped chicken. When making bak chek gey, one dunks the whole bird in the biggest stock pot of just-boiled water one can assemble. This invariably cools the water down so the process of reheating and redunking is repeated until the entire chicken is cooked through, which, as you can imagine, takes patience and tests your arm muscles.

But for your pains you are rewarded with what you’d expect from a gently cooked bird – the smoothest/silkiest/tendery-ist chicken flesh imaginable, without fear of a stringy bite. For the Chinese, this waat or slippery mouthfeel is much revered. However, as Chinese kids who had yet to learn how to appreciate mouthfeels, we’d say that the accompanying sauce was the star. For we would dip the chicken in again and again just to lap up more of the sauce.

The sauce takes the term ‘infused oil’ to another level. Ginger and spring onion are aromatic on their own, but when you hit them with smoking hot oil, they relent their most delicious parts to the liquid and you’re left with a pool of oil so infused with flavour that it’s visibly cloudy.

For bak chey gey, we’d simply season the sauce with salt and white pepper. But grilled aubergine begs for more. Something with more gusto and full of umami to enliven the juicy flesh and bring out its delicate sweetness. For a task like that, we always reach for soy sauce.

And so this dish was born. Aubergine wedges grilled to perfection then adorned with, very possibly, our favourite sauce ever.

GET THE METHOD →

Slice each aubergine lengthways like you would for potato wedges.
Get your largest frying pan over a medium heat and add a splash of oil.
Add the aubergine, ensuring no pieces are overlapping. If they are, fry in batches.
Meanwhile, put the ginger, spring onions and white pepper into a bowl. Start to heat the oil for the sauce in a small saucepan.
Keep your eye on the aubergine and turn when the undersides are browned, on the verge of charring, and the flesh is softened.
When the oil is smoking, carefully pour onto the ginger and spring onion. To finish the sauce, mix in the light soy to taste.
When the aubergine is done on both sides, transfer to a plate and dress with dollops of the sauce, letting the infused oil puddle between the wedges.
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  • Anita

    I used 3 small white skinned eggplant,next time will peel them,as the skin did not soften at all,but we loved the flavor,also will use less oil as it did not soak up very much,,and I wanted all the ginger and scallions on the eggplant

    • So pleased that you tried it! And glad to hear that you will retry with a few tweaks. The flavour is so simple but lovely 🙂

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