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Ma Po's Aubergine

As you probably know, the Japanese love Chinese food. So much so that there are lots of Chinese recipes that have been "localised" and are now regarded as a part of everyday Japanese cooking. I posted one of those recipes, Ma Po's Tofu, a little while ago. The Japanese palate generally prefers more sweetness and less heat, so Ma Po's Tofu in it's Japanese version, dials down on the chilli, boosts the sweetness and reduces the oil content. This version of that classic dish drops the tofu and replaces it with aubergine ("nasu" as the Japanese call it - one of Japan's favourite vegetables). Nasu/aubergine is low in calories, high in fibre and is a good source of B vitamins and potassium - so it's well worth making it a regular part of your diet. If you know your aubergines well, you'll know that Asian aubergines are quite different to the one's you can find in the UK. The aubergines you can find in Japan tend to be thinner and longer, which makes it easier to cut them into chunks for stir frying. But there's no reason why you can't substitute a European aubergine (I used one in this recipe). You'll just need to cut it a little differently. The Chinese ingredients you'll need for this dish - toban djan (chilli bean sauce) and ten men djan - are available in Asian stores. If you can't find ten men djan than you can use miso as a substitute. I would grade the heat/spiciness of this recipe as medium. If you fabcy something hotter (or milder) simply add or subtract the amount of toban djan and ten men djan by about 0.5 tbsp each.

If this has got you in the mood to bring a little aubergine into your cooking, you can find the Youtube tutorial here or by scrolling to the bottom of the page. The written recipe is just below.

So, go on, get like Ma Po! Kurumi XXXX.



(serves 2)

300g aubergine

3 spring onions

150g minced pork

1 tsp ginger paste

2 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp chilli bean sauce (toban djan)

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp ten men djan (or a miso substitute)

1 tsp sugar

150ml water

2 tsp potato flour

2 tsp water

4 tbsps vegetable oil

some kitchen paper


how to:

cut the aubergine in half lengthways, then into quarters. next, slice the quarters into segments

soak the aubergine segments in water for 10 minutes to extract the bitterness and then drain

slice the garlic thinly and then mince

slice the sping onion diagonally

heat 3 tbsps of vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine until it has softened. rest on the kitchen paper

add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the pan. add the garlic, ginger and minced pork. fry until the pork is lightly browned

add the aubergine back to the pan along with the chilli bean sauce, ten men djan, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and water. bring the liquid to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes

mix the potato flour with the 2 tsps of water into a smooth paste. add to the pan and stir again for 30 seconds

add the spring onion

your Ma Po's aubergine is ready. serve with fresh steamed rice.


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