Chinese Eggplant & Minced Soy "Meat"
This delicious Sichuan province dish is typically made with pork minced meat, but here we have replaced it with marinated soy mince to make this a 100% vegan friendly dish. The well combined flavours of the spices with the softness of the eggplants and the crispy soy bits makes this dish my new favourite comfort food!
WHAT YOU NEED
2 small eggplants, cut into wedges and soaked in water and salt to get rid of bitterness
1 cup soy dry minced "meat" (also known as textured soy protein)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp preserved black beans in chilli oil (you can skip this but I highly recommend it)
1 tbsp grated ginger (thats right, grate it with the cheese grater, you get a lot more flavour from it than simply cutting it)
1 big white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tbsp honey or agave
1 tbsp potato or corn starch
1 cube of vegetable stock
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or another vinegar like apple vinegar if you don't have it)
Cooking oil of your preference (sesame, sunflower, etc) you will need a fair bit of it
toasted sesame seeds and spring onions to serve
white or brown rice to serve
Let's start by preparing the soy meat. boil about 2 cups of water. Set the soy bits in a bowl. First dissolve the cube of vegetable stock in a separate cup, then add to the bowl. Cover the soy meat with hot boiling water (you might not need all the water, just enough to cover). Let it sit until all water is absorbed. If the water isn't completely absorbed, discard the excess water.
In the meantime cook your onions and garlic then add the soy meat. Stir it from time to time until it's golden and crispy. About 5 minutes. Place it back to the bowl and set it aside.
Prepare your sauce in a bowl adding soy sauce, preserved black beans, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and starch. Combine it well until there are no "lumps".
Place a very generous amount of oil to the same pan you cooked the soy bits. Drain your eggplants and cook them in medium to high fire always stirring it. If the mixture gets to dry and starts burning then add more oil. When the eggplants are soft, add the soy meat and the sauce. Carefully stir it together without breaking the eggplants into a mash. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes until it gets thick. Turn the fire off and sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and spring onions on top.
Serve it with the rice of your choice. Enjoy!
**You can skip this preserved black beans but if you want a bit more of an original Chinese taste I highly recommend it! You can easily find at Asian supermarkets in bigger cities.