Not all meals are pretty to look at, and they’re definitely not all very Instagram-friendly, and they shouldn’t be. Some of the most delicious things in life are messy, charred, shrivelled and downright wonky to look at, but all taste incredible. People eat with their eyes first, and while that is the case, once in a while we should set the phone aside and just enjoy something without feeling socially obliged to share it with the world.
My 5 Spice Aubergine and Pak Choi isn’t winning any beauty contests, and will certainly not be Instagrammed by anyone else but me, it’s the kind of delightful weekend stir-fry I’ll be more than happy to whip up after a tired day. With little to no effort, it’s just a matter of cooking the aubergine down till it’s tender and charred, luxurious soft with steamed but still crisp pak choi and a 5-spice and sweet soy sauce that reduces to coat everything.
My rule with stir-fries (and most cooking) is to have everything ready to go so I’m not scrambling around at the very last minute. This is especially true of stir-fries because things should cook quickly and over high heat, so you have got to keep things ready. The pak choi cannot be getting chopped if the aubergine has already hit the pan.
5 Spice Aubergine and Pak Choi Stir-Fry
5 Spice powder is available on Amazon for quite cheap, and you can also find it at any world food store. Make this a pantry staple in your masala cabinet because it’s not only great in stir-fries like this one, but also pairs with meat and is surprisingly good in dessert.
Eggplant/Aubergine 1 large, bharta variety, or 2 medium, long variety
Spring onions 1 bunch (5-6 to a bunch), tops trimmed a bit and the rest chopped into thick bits
Pak choi 200g
Vegetable oil 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Lime wedges to serve
For The Sauce
Dark soy sauce 2 tbsp
Rice wine 2 tbsp
White Vinegar 1 tsp
Sugar 3 tsp
5 Spice powder 1 tsp
Garlic 4 cloves, grated
Ginger 1 tsp, grated
Green chillies 1, slit lengthwise and finely chopped
Water 2 tbsp
Stir together all the ingredients of the sauce and set aside.
Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise, then divide each half into 2 so you have 4 pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise. There is no need to salt your aubergine. Trim the base of the pak choi and chop the stem and leaves roughly.
In a wok or kadai set over high heat, add the vegetable oil and when it is quite hot and starting to smoke a bit, add the aubergine and stir-fry for about 8-10 minutes until the pieces are browned and are starting to feel quite tender when you are stirring. Add the spring onions and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add the sauce to the wok, all this while still over high heat, cook for 2 minutes stirring, before adding the stems of the pak choi and cooking for another 2 minutes. Lastly, toss in the leaves of the pak choi, give everything a good stir for a minute at the most, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle over some salt and a spritz of lime juice while everything is still hot and taste. Serve with rice.