Mapo tofu with aubergine


I love Sichuanese food so much that I have shamelessly adapted this recipe from the Guardian. It’s vegan and not as spicy as the some mapo recipes as theres no hot black bean sauce – although the black beans make it fairly authentic! If you want more heat then add some extra sichuan peppercorns or more doubanjiang. Shitake mushrooms are good for immunity and quite honestly this tastes like a really meaty and satisfying dish for vegan-doubters!

Serves 4

2 large aubergine (about 400g), cut diagonally into 1.25cm thick rounds
rapeseed oil, for frying
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 375ml (1½ cups) boiling water (can substitute with fresh shiitake, oyster or Swiss brown mushrooms)
450g block of extra-firm tofu, roughly crumbled
1 tsp five-spice powder
1/2 – 1 small can salted black beans
Sea salt
2 garlic cloves
, finely chopped
2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp Korean doubanjiang or  Chinese black bean sauce  (hot)
4 spring onions, chopped into 5cm lengths
2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp white sugar
Rice, to serve

Place the aubergine in a large bowl and scatter over the cornflour. Using your hands or a large spoon, toss to coat.

Heat a large wok over medium–high heat. When it’s hot, drizzle with oil and arrange as many aubergine rounds as you can fit in a single layer. Sear for 3–4 minutes, until lightly golden, then flip them over and fry the other side.  Remove the aubergine from the pan and set aside. They should be soft when you take them out as there’s nothing worse than a under-cooked aubergine!

Remove the shiitake mushrooms from the water, squeezing out any excess liquid. Keep the mushroom soaking water (if there is a lot of sediment in the water, run it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove). Finely slice the mushrooms.

To the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil, along with the tofu, mushroom, five-spice powder and about 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Cook for 3–5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the tofu starts to brown. Add the garlic and ginger, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the doubanjiang (or black bean sauce), green onion and soy sauce (or tamari) and sauté for 2 minutes until aromatic. Add the aubergine, black beans and mushroom soaking water (or substitute with water), then reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, until the eggplant is completely softened. Add the sugar and stir, then taste and season with more sea salt, if needed. Serve with rice.


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