The seasoning for this dish is a classic and very well known for Chinese cooking. This is a vegetarian dish, however in Chinese, it is called “aromatic fish seasoned”. It tastes nothing like fish, but the term came about because the seasoning is typical of those used for cooking fish, which includes spring onions, ginger, and garlic.
This dish is one of Kiwi Bird’s favourite. I always have to cook a big plate to make sure I get to have my portion too! Traditionally it’s cooked using just eggplants, but on this day, to make sure there’ll be enough to go around between us, I added mushrooms too. The texture of eggplant and mushroom worked together really well for this dish. You can also try site frying other vegetables, tofu, or pork/chicken strips in the same seasoning. The pork version is very common in restaurants too.
To make this dish, you’ll need:
- 1 eggplant, 700g or so
- button mushrooms, 700g or so
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 3 spring onions
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 6-8 garlic cloves, smashed then roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (increase/decrease or leave out depending on how hot you like it)
- 1 tablespoon of white rice liquor (about 14% alcohol content*, optional)
- 2-4 tablespoons of soy sauce**
- 1 tablespoon of light sesame oil***
Follow these steps:
- Chop eggplants into thumb size bits.
- If the mushrooms are large, half them.
- Chop spring onions into 3 cm long bits, and have roughly 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped to add to the dish at the end.
- Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat.
- Add ginger, chilli, garlic, and spring onion to the hot oil and fry until it’s really fragrant****.
- Add eggplants and let them lightly brown.
- Add 3-4 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid for 3 minutes or so until the water has evaporated.
- Open the lid and stir. If the eggplants are not soft yet, repeat the last step.
- Add the mushrooms and stir to coat in the spice.
- Add rice liquor. If you cannot find rice liquor from Asian shops, just skip this. DON’T substitute with other alcohol – the flavour won’t be right. The rice liquor is only added in keeping with the seasoning typically used for fish.
- Add soy sauce a little at a time and keep tasting until it’s the saltiness you like. This dish is typically more on the saltier side for serving with rice.
- When the mushrooms are cooked, which should not take long, take the pan off the heat and stir through the sesame oil and chopping spring onions.
Enjoy with rice! 🙂
* About rice liquor: There are typically two types, one around 14% in alcohol, the other around 40%. If you have the stronger one, use just a splash.
** About soy sauce: Soy sauce varies in saltiness. In general the Taiwanese ones are a lot less salty than ones from China, and has a stronger aroma. Taste as you add to make sure you don’t kill the dish with soy sauce. (Taiwanese cooking typically use soy sauce for its aroma rather than for it’s saltiness.)
*** About sesame oil: There are light ones and dark ones. If you can only find one type of sesame oil in your store, just grab it and use more or less depending on your taste.
**** If you are not a vegetarian, you can also add roughly 100g of pork mince at this stage to add some meaty flavour. This is very common in restaurants but I don’t normally do this at home.