Ying's ideas of easy Chinese home-cooking

Braised Aubergine with Preserved Fish in Pot


I bought some fresh finger aubergines in farmer’s market today and thought it would be lovely to make braised aubergine with preserved fish. This is a very well-known Cantonese dish that we usually have in winter because it’s cooked and served in clay pot. But as I mentioned in my previous post, I would use a cast iron pot.

Beside aubergine, another key ingredient is preserved fish which is very salty. In the old poor ages, a small amount of preserved fish can go with bowls of rice. Though people have no longer had preserved fish that much, they create dishes with it as seasoning ingredient. There are mainly two types of preserved fishes Cantonese often use, one very firm and dry and one less firm and moist, we call it ‘梅香鹹魚’, well I am afraid I don’t know how to translate. Anyway, both types can be easily obtained in Chinese grocery store and you can press the fish gently, if it can be pressed down then that’s the one you need. It’s always sold in big chunk, wouldn’t be in whole.

If this dish is cooked in restaurants the aubergine would be deep-fried before braising. But I hardly do any deep-frying home. I promise it’s no less delicious than those served in restaurants. I made a big portion because my families like it so much but usually half would be good enough.

Serve 4

Ingredients –
Aubergine, 500g, washed and cut into about 5cm long stick. Finger aubergine has thin peel so I didn’t peel them off. If you have the typical big long or round aubergine, I would suggest to peel off their tough skin;
Preserved fish, 40g, cut into small dices;
Pork belly, 150g, sliced. A small amount of pork with fat is essential;
Ginger, 30g, sliced;
Garlic, 3 cloves, also sliced;
Chili bean sauce, 3tbsp, also named Toban Djan, 豆瓣酱, 豆瓣醬;
Oyster sauce, 2tbsp;
Sugar, 1tbsp;
Shaoxing rice wine, 2tbsp.

1. In a cast iron pot, hot 3 tbsp of oil, fry the ginger and preserved fish in medium heat till fragrant and golden. This can get rid of the nasty fishy smell of the fish. Spoon them out and set aside;
2. No need to clean the pot, fry the pork belly, keep in medium heat. Be patient, the pork fat would release when pan-frying, this can make the aubergine very delicious!
3. When the pork turn golden brown, add in the preserved fish, keep stir-frying and mix well;

4. Add in the aubergine and lid on. Keep medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. Aubergine will release liquid when cooking with salty ingredient;
5. Add in chili bean sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing rice wine and sugar, mix well with all ingredients. Lid on and continue cooking for 5 minutes;

6. Serve in the pot, better with rice.

Believe me it dosen’t look good but so tasty, it’s one of my favourite dishes. You would find yourself having more rice than usual.

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