Ingredients (serves 4):
2 good-sized aubergines
groundnut or corn oil for deep-frying
1½ tbsp Sichuanese chilli bean paste
3 tsps finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tsps finely chopped garlic
1½ tsps white sugar
1½ tsps light soy sauce
¾ tsp potato flour, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1½ tsps Chinkiang or Chinese black vinegar
4 spring onions
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Cut the aubergines into chunks. Sprinkle with 11/2 tsps of salt and leave for at least half an hour to extract the bitter juices.
2. In a wok heat the oil until it is ready for deep-frying (it should just be beginning to smoke. Add the aubergines in batches and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until a light golden colour. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
3. Discard the frying oil in the wok. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil and add the chilli bean paste. Stir for a few seconds until the oil is red and aromatic. Add the ginger and garlic, continuing to stir.
4. In a bowl, mix together the stock, sugar, soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Add to the aubergines and simmer for a few minutes.
5. Add the potato flour mixture to the wok to thicken the sauce. Add the vinegar and spring onions, stir and serve, with a drizzle of sesame oil.