2 eggplants (aubergines) about 500 g/1 lb each,
or 1 kg/2 lb smaller eggplants
500 ml/1 pint/2 cups peanut oil
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese wine or dry sherry
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
1 teaspoon chilli oil (optional)
1-2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce
Slice off and discard the stalk end of the eggplants, but do not peel them. Cut in half lengthways, then into wedges lengthways each about 2.5 cm (1 in) thick. Cut the wedges into 5 cm (2 in) lengths.
Heat the peanut oil in a wok or frying pan, and fry half of the pieces of eggplant at a time on high heat, turning the pieces so that they are evenly browned. Let them cook to a dark golden brown, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. When all the eggplant pieces have been fried, set them aside to cool. The oil that remains may be strained and used again.
Combine the sauce ingredients and stir until sugar dissolves.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil remaining in the pan. Heat, then add the ginger and garlic and stir quickly over medium heat until they turn golden. Add the sauce mixture, bring to the boil, then return the eggplant and cook over high heat, turning the eggplant pieces over until most of the sauce is absorbed. Transfer to a serving dish as soon as cooking is completed (don't leave eggplant in the wok or a metallic taste will develop). Serve warm or cold.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)