This dish is ideal as part of an Asian banquet for a large gathering. It's also a great recipe for getting messy with thick, rich sauces.
8 Japanese eggplants
3 tbsp cornflour
3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
2 tbsp chopped coriander, to serve
100g green prawn meat
200g ground pork
2 tsp finely chopped spring onions
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
¼ tsp salt
black bean sauce
2 tbsp fermented black beans
1 tsp shaoxing wine
2 tsp minced garlic cloves
½ cup chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp cornflour
*check cornflour and stock are gluten-free brands
Soak black beans for sauce in shoaxing wine until soft - about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
For the stuffing, mince prawns finely then chop together with ground pork. Mix 1 tbsp water, spring onions, soy sauce, cornflour and salt into a paste, and mix through the prawn and pork.
Slice 1cm off the length of one side of each eggplant to form a flat base. Slice the eggplant in half lengthways (parallel to the first cut), nearly all the way through but leaving it joined, so it is butterflied but secure.
Open up the eggplant and sprinkle with cornflour. Add prawn and pork stuffing, pat down evenly. Sprinkle on a little more cornflour before closing the eggplant shut.
Add 3 cups of oil to a wok, heat to 180°C or just smoking. Deep-fry the stuffed eggplant until golden-brown. Remove and drain well on paper towel. Leave 1 tbsp of oil in wok.
To make sauce, stir-fry black beans and minced garlic until fragrant. Add the stock, soy and oyster sauces, and bring to the boil. Add ½ tbsp water, and thicken sauce with cornflour. Turn the heat to low and return the eggplants to cook for about 5 minutes.
Transfer eggplants to a dish, pour the sauce over the top, and serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.
Note: Serves 4-8 as part of a shared Asian banquet.
• Add chilli to the eggplant dish if you want to spice things up.
• Rather than deep-frying the eggplants, they can also be roasted at about 180°C for 20 minutes or so.
• Great served with Neil Perry's barbecue chicken wings, steamed greens and rice for an ideal shared meal.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
A dish with spice and boldness shouts out for a refreshing and quenching ale. Hailing from the historic Rocks district of Sydney, Lord Nelson Three Sheets Pale Ale ($4, 330ml) is a playful yet intriguing match.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.