Sichuan Chilli Eggplant & Soybeans. This gorgeous slow-cooked meal is the ultimate veggie-packed indulgence.
1.25kg eggplants, quartered lengthways then cut into 3cm slices
1½ tbsp 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
4 spring onions, thinly sliced, white and pale parts kept separate from green parts
220g frozen shelled soybeans (edamame), thawed
roasted peanuts, sliced red chilli, chopped coriander and steamed rice, to serve
If using a slow cooker, sprinkle eggplant with salt and set aside in a large colander set over a bowl for 1 hour. Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towel. Working in batches, heat 2 teaspoons of sesame 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 remaining oil and eggplant.
In a bowl, combine 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 250ml 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. Scatter with the spring onion greens, peanuts, chilli and coriander. Serve with rice.
If cooking on the stovetop, simmer in a covered saucepan for 45 minutes until eggplant is tender. Stir in soybeans and cook for 5 minutes to warm through.
Smart tip +
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.