Embracing Penury as the new January, here's my attempt at recreating Gourmet San's stew fried aubergine at home*. It's basically a salty, oily, sugary, umami-y slap around the face with a silky aubergine. So, pretty good, then.
*if you've yet to visit Gourmet San, this review should jolly you along a bit.
To serve six as a side, three - four at a miserly push - as a main with sticky rice
2 big aubergines
2tbsp (heaped) fermented soy bean / miso paste
1tbsp (heaped) caster sugar
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
200ml hot water from the kettle
Sunflower, vegetable or groundnut oil for frying
1 white onions, finely sliced
1tbsp light soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful chopped coriander
1. Cut the aubergines into big fat chips, roughly 6cm long and 1.5cm wide (don't lose sleep over exact measurements). Scatter them across a board or work surface, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20 minutes.
2. Mix together the soy bean paste, sugar, rice wine vinegar and water until combined.
3. Give the aubergine pieces a cursory wipe with a bit of kitchen paper and heat a wok until medium hot. Batch fry the aubergine slices until golden brown; stir almost constantly and don't be too shy with the oil (couple of tablespoons per batch). Put the aubergines on kitchen paper once fried.
4. Once all the aubergine pieces are browned, turn down the heat down medium-low, offer a prayer to the gods of heart disease prevention and add a final sloosh of oil to the wok. Stir fry the onions for a few seconds, then add the soy sauce and garlic. Continue to stir fry until the onions are soft and have a bit of colour, then pour in the saucy stuff. Turn up the heat until it's all nice and bubbly then taste and add a bit more of whatever you think it might need; you want a balanced salty/sweet/slightly tangy/savoury thing going on without any of the aforementioned attributes dominating the taste. Once you're happy with the flavour, chuck in the aubergines and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until they're all gloopy, squishy and delicious.
5. Add the coriander, stir a bit, then serve with sticky rice and a healthy dollop of Sriracha sauce.