Hoisin Aubergine Stir Fry
by Iona Berry
Most of us grew up with meat as the hero of our meals and with vegetables taking up the mere corners of our plates. It can be hard to know where to start if you're trying to flip the script and cook plant based meals that don’t feel like just eating a plate full of sides. Building an exciting, yet satisfying meal around vegetables - whether that’s a bunch of carrots or a humble head of cauliflower - can sometimes feel like a little daunting and underwhelming task.
Our new series, Veg and Two Veg is here to tackle just that and to explore all of the ways in which every day vegetables can be the star of the table without sacrificing flavour or heartiness. Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a bunch, these recipes will fill your table with vibrant, deeply flavoured and satisfying dishes that you’ll be making on repeat.
This sticky, salty and sweet hoisin aubergine stir fry is the perfect dish to add to your cooking repertoire. It’s quick and easy to make and you can tweak the flavours (ie chilli heat) to your liking.
Hoisin sauce (also called peking sauce) is a sauce used traditionally in chinese cooking. It can be used as a cooking ingredient or as a condiment, I really love to use it when making stir fries especially, as it adds a lot of flavour. I have also used it in lettuce wraps which I fill with fried vegan duck and plenty of hoisin and quick pickled cucumbers.
This stir fry is very versatile and will work with a variety of vegetables, if for some reason aubergine is not your jam. I have used baby aubergines in this version but any size/variety of aubergine will work well, I’d recommend cutting them into long strips as this texture works well alongside the pak choi. Feel free to use a different green vegetable, anything you have leftover in your fridge at the end of the week will work. I have used tenderstem broccoli before, edamame and savoy cabbage which were all really nice and added great texture to the stir fry. I love to eat this hot and steaming straight from the wok, but if you happen to have leftovers, it’s great served cold tossed with some soba noodles and an extra drizzle of sesame oil.
350g aubergines (I used baby aubergines)
Sea salt for salting the aubergines
200g pak choi (again I used the baby pak choi variety but any will work fine, it just might need to be chopped down)
1 tbsp oil (sesame adds a nice nutty flavour)
2 inch piece ginger, finely grated/chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped into a paste
3 tbsp hoisin sauce (I love to use the brand Stoke’s)
1 tbsp soya sauce or tamari
½ lime, juiced and zested
1 tbsp mushroom stir fry sauce (hard to find so sub for an extra tbsp of hoisin if you can’t get a hold of this)
1 small bunch of thai basil
Chopped spring onion
Fresh red chilli finely sliced
Cover the aubergines in sea salt and place them into a colander - I place something heavy on top to encourage the aubergine to release its liquid. Leave for 20 minutes whilst you prep and make the sauce.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and add the garlic and ginger. Cook for two minutes on a medium to low heat (it’s important not to burn them as this will affect the flavour of the sauce).
Add the soya sauce, lime zest, lime juice, mushroom stir fry sauce (if using) and stir until everything is combined. Cook for 5 minutes and then take off the heat and leave in a bowl on the side.
Rinse the excess salt off the aubergine and then pat dry. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the wok and once hot, add the aubergine. Cook until the aubergine has gone crisp around the edges and soft throughout (I recommend poking with a skewer to double check as there is nothing worse than underdone aubergine).
Add the sauce that you made earlier to the wok and stir until the aubergine is thoroughly coated. Then add the pak choi and thai basil and cook for 2-3 more minutes (you still want a slight crunch on the pak choi).
Serve straight away and top with chilli flakes, spring onions and extra thai basil or coriander if you prefer! This stir fry is excellent served with sticky rice, udon noodles or simply by itself with some extra fried tofu.
By Iona Berry
Iona is our Development Chef, aka our go-to girl for developing, testing and tasting delicious dishes for you to all enjoy at home. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her either running or cycling, or trying out food markets and new restaurants around London. Continuous market research it would seem.