Berenjenas China Crown
China Crown used to be my favourite Chinese restaurant in Madrid. It´s good, unfussy, unexpensive, and did my favourite dish of aubergines in the whole world. I can´t remember what they were called, but they were hot and spicy and I loved them.
When they took them off the menu I stopped going. It´s a lovely restaurant, and I recommend it, but it´s way uptown, and what´s the point, without these aubergines?(Dim sum, actually. I really miss their dim sum. Will go soon)
I looked everywhere for a recipe, but couldn´t find anything that sounded exactly like it.
One day, last book fair, I bought a stack of cookbooks for the doubtful reason that they cost three euros.They didn´t look so good, and actually they really weren´t anything special. But. There was a recipe for Sechuan aubergine that looked quite similar. After some tweaking, I turned it into a very close approximation. You can imagine my happiness.
I´d always been a bit nervous of aubergines, having had a few disasters with them. But this recipe is foolproof, and entirely delicious.
The aubergines are chopped into chunky bite sized pices, and simmered with a sauce made of stock and a few condiments.
After twenty minutes, they turn smooth and silky, dark, slippery, so smooth they´re almost gooey, and dissappear in your mouth. Serve on a mound of the plainest steamed white rice, and enjoy the mix of the bland and the explosive.
The aubergines in the picture are some oriental ones I bought at the Mostenses market last week, but usually I do it with our
normal baloon shaped ones.
China Crown Aubergines
500gr. aubergines, cut in chunks
2 tbs. oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tbs. julienned ginger
4 spring onions, sliced
1 red chili, chopped
250 gr. minced pork
And for the sauce (which you mix first of all)
3 teaspoons garlic and black bean paste (original recipe calls for garlic chili paste but I´m a chili wimp)
2 tbs. sherry
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons vinegar ( I use sherry vinegar)
250 ml. stock (half a cube and water)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.
Heat a wok or a deep saucepan with a lid. Add the oil, and sautee the ginger,garlic, chili and spring onions. After a minute, add the meat, break up the chunks and let it lose the pink colour.
Add the aubergines, stirfry for a couple of minutes. Add the sauce, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat , cover, and leave to simmer for 20 or so.
When the aubergines are soft, you´re done.
I usually add a little cornstarch at the end to thicken the sauce.
Be careful with the salt, leave it for the end, because the stock and the black bean paste are very salty.