This medium-hot dish is also known as fish-fragrant aubergine in China, because the aubergine is cooked with flavourings that are often used with fish.

2 small aubergines
5 ml/ 1 tsp salt
3 dried red chillies peanut oil, for deep frying
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cm// ? in piece of fresh root ginger, finely chopped
4 spring onions, cut into 2.5 cm/1 in lengths (white and green parts separated)
15 ml/ 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or medium-dry sherry
15 ml/ 1 tbsp light soy sauce
5 ml/1 tsp sugar
1.5 ml/ ? tsp ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns
15 ml/1 tbsp Chinese rice vinegar
5 ml/1 tsp sesame oil
Serves 4
Trim the aubergines and cut into strips about 4 cm/ 1 ? in wide and 7.5 cm/3 in long. Place the aubergine strips in a colander and sprinkle over the salt. Set aside for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat dry with kitchen paper.
Meanwhile, soak the chillies in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain, then cut each chili into four pieces, discarding the seeds.
Half-fill a wok with oil and heat to 180C/350F. Deep-fry the aubergine until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Pour off most of the oil from the wok. Reheat the oil and add the garlic, ginger and white spring onion.
Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the aubergine and toss, then add the rice wine or sherry, soy sauce, sugar, ground peppercorns and rice vinegar. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle over the sesame oil and green spring onion and serve immediately.