With Chinese New Year coming up, what better way than to celebrate than by making this plant-based version of your takeaway favourite? Here’s a secret- it’s gonna taste as good (if not better) and it’s so much cheaper!
To make, you’ll need:
- 1 medium aubergine
- 2 large white mushrooms
- 5-6 chestnut mushrooms
- 1 pak choi
- Thumb size piece of ginger, grated
- A glug of garlic oil
- 2 spring onions
- 1 tin of pineapple chunks (in juice)
- Juice of 2 limes
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 dashes of light soy sauce
- 3 tbs ketchup
- Pinch of chilli flakes
- 1tsp unrefined sugar
- 1 heaped tbs plum jam (I used my Grandmother’s)
- 1tbs pickled red pepper brine
- 100g cornflower
- salt & pepper
- Oil, for frying
On the hob, start the sauce by adding the pineapple (juice and all) into a pan on low heat. Next, add the zest & lime juice and stir. Add the plum jam and stir until it dissolves. Next, add the ketchup, ginger and the chilli flakes (its aroma will start to become familiar by this point).
Scorch the red pepper on another one of the gas rings until it begins to catch and blacken slightly, then set aside to cool. If you don’t have a gas hob you can roast them on max for about half an hour until the skins start to blacken.
Once cool, chop the pepper into chunks and add to the sauce. Next, sprinkle in some unrefined sugar, a couple of dashes of light soy, pickle brine and a glug of garlic oil. Stir. To thicken add 1tsp cornflour, slaked in some lime juice. Pour in and stir continuously. Turn the heat up slightly until it reduces into a sticky sauce.
Now, to prepare the vegetables!
Whilst you’re cooking the sauce, it’s probably a good idea to chop up the aubergine into coins, place in a colander (over a bowl) and sprinkle them with salt. Then, by the time the sauce is ready, the aubergines should also be ready. Wipe them down with a piece of tissue and set them aside. Next, chop up the mushrooms into thick slices. Place all of the mushroom slices and aubergine on a plate. In a bowl, combine 100g cornflower with some salt & pepper. It’s time to start coating. Coat each slice in plenty of seasoned flour and place on another plate. Once it’s all done – I’d recommend a quick wipe up around the kitchen (cornflour gets everywhere!).
Next, coat a shallow pan with oil (I used my trusty shallow Dutch Oven) and place on the hob on the highest heat setting. Once the oil is hot enough, drop the floury vegetables (in small batches) into the oil and they’ll instantly start to crisp up. Turn a few times, so they don’t burn. Place onto a third plate lined with paper towel. Once the excess oil has been drained off, place in yet another bowl/plate (sorry). When it’s all fried up and crispy, set aside.
With each batch you’ll need to add a glug more oil and open the windows/turn on fans for this one, as it does get smoky!
Next, wash and chop some pak choi, along with a couple of spring onions. Put the sauce back on the heat and add. Once the pak choi begins to wilt, fold in the mushrooms and aubergine. The colour of the sauce at this point should have darkened into a rich red. Keep folding until it’s heated through. To finish, serve with some fluffy boiled rice and garnish with some more spring onion.
I hope you all have a great Chinese New Year!
Gong Xi Fa Cai/ Gong Hey Fat Choy/ 恭禧发财!!!