[Chinese New Year] Hot and Sour Aubergines with Caramelised Chilli Peanuts

Hot and Sour Aubergines
Hot and Sour Aubergines with Caramelised Chilli Peanuts served with egg fried rice
Hot and Sour Aubergines with Caramelised Chilli Peanuts served with egg fried rice

Chinese New Year is almost here! This year the festival falls on Friday 31st January. Unfortunately for us we will be on holiday and therefore will be missing the extravagant celebration I had planned in China Town. On the plus side however we will be in sunny Lanzarote so I guess its swings and roundabouts…The festival also lasts a whole 17 days so we can keep on enjoying the festivities when we are back!

For those of you who read Kitchen Goddess (in training!) before it became Supper in the Suburbs, you’ll already be aware of how overexcited I get about Chinese New Year celebrations. For me it’s a fantastic excuse to cook up an epic Chinese feast – something which I have taken from my father! We have no Chinese heritage but simply love the culture and my Dad always used it as an excuse to get out the wok and bamboo steamers.

Chinese New Year is also always a more joyous and hopeful time for me. The 1st of January is often rushed and comes at the end of a long and tiring Christmas period, so celebrating at the end of January/beginning of February suits me down to a T!

In the past I’ve used the celebration as an opportunity to share these delicious recipes:

This year I’ve decided to share a vegetarian recipe – not least because I’ve practically gone veggie since moving in with Jon, but because people often think that Chinese food isn’t vegetarian friendly, well I’m here to prove you wrong!

Tofu is perhaps an obvious choice for vegetarian, Chinese cooking, but many of your favourite oriental sauces can be used over a selection of stir-fried vegetables.

Just be careful of those recipes that require fish sauce or oyster sauce. I’m yet to find a vegetarian fish sauce but vegetarian oyster sauce is quite widely available. Vegetarian oyster sauce is made from, perhaps unsurprisingly, oyster mushrooms or even shitake mushrooms.

Caramelised Chilli Peanuts
Caramelised Chilli Peanuts

This recipe however doesn’t require any replacements or alternatives. It is authentic, tasty and 100% vegetarian friendly.

The hot and sour sauce is luxurious and silky. It goes perfectly with soft and tender aubergine and red peppers. The caramelised chilli peanuts contrast perfectly with these textures by offering a bit of bite and crunch.

Hot and Sour Aubergines are best served with fluffy egg fried rice to help soak up the delicious sauce.

[Chinese New Year] Hot and Sour Aubergines with Caramelised Chilli Peanuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp soy sauce
  • 8 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 green chilli
  • 50g dry roasted peanuts
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 20ml water
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 small tin of bamboo shoots
  • 1 bunch spring onions

Instructions

  1. In a bowl mix together the soy sauce with the cornflour until it has completely dissolved.
  2. Next, stir in the red wine vinegar followed by the honey.
  3. Mix this well until all the ingredients are fully combined before adding the chillies, thinly sliced.
  4. Place the sauce to one side while preparing the peanuts.
  5. To prepare the peanuts mix the nuts with the water and sugar in a large heavy pan.
  6. Heat slowly until the sugar begins to dissolve and goes a straw like colour.
  7. Shake the nuts in the pan to ensure they are covered in the caramel. Avoiding stirring as this will make the caramel turn to crystals.
  8. Once they are fully coated and the nuts are a deep caramel colour turn out on to a baking sheet covered in grease proof paper. Try to avoid the nuts sticking together in clumps.
  9. While they are still sticky sprinkle over the chilli flakes and salt.
  10. Leave for 10-15mins, or until the sugar has set.
  11. Then heat a non-stick griddle or wok over a high heat.
  12. Slice the peppers and aubergines into long, strips roughly 1cm wide and fry them in the pan quickly and fiercely.
  13. Let the vegetables brown around the edges and become soft.
  14. Fry off the vegetables for 5mins, before adding the spring onions and bamboo shoots for another five minutes.
  15. Pour over the sauce and cook for another 5-10mins until the sauce is thick and sticky, evenly coating the vegetables.
  16. Serve on a bed of rice and sprinkle the peanuts liberally over the dish.
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Are there any other vegetarians out there who think vegetarian Chinese food can be awesome? Perhaps you know of some fabulous dim sum restaurants that cater for veggies or where you can get vegetarian fish sauce?

Please do share your tips in the comments.

Happy New Year!

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