Three cup aubergines

Just before Christmas, a friend asked me for this recipe, and I realised I’d never actually posted it.

This was a bit of a surprise, as it’s something I’ve been making for years. I had to send him the draft, and it was, let’s say, a little rough…

I’ve tidied it up now.

So, what exactly is “three cup aubergines”? It looks pretty questionable if you try to express it in emoji, but it’s just a veggie take on a Chinese classic: Three Cup Chicken.

I don’t think there’s a recipe in Every Grain of Rice– which has become my go-to for Chinese food – but that Serious Eats one is decent, and it’s pretty simple in any case.

The three cups in question are, historically, one each of soy, rice wine, and sesame oil, all cooked down to a sticky sauce. Although if you actually use three cups of each you’ll need to serve it with a generous side of blood pressure meds.

Both the aubergine and chicken versions are quick to make, succulent, and incredibly comforting served with a bowl of rice and some simple greens.

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Learning to make xiaolongbao at Janncy’s Kitchen, London

Earlier this year, the boyfriend and I had an amazing time in Hong Kong. That’s a whole separate post, and one where I get over-excited about architecture before complaining about the air quality and the financial inequality.

But the food was amazing.

Particularly amazing were the xiaolong bao we had at Din Tai Fung. If you’ve not had xiaolong bao before (and I hadn’t), they’re these little steamed dumplings, usually filled with minced meat, various aromatics, and – crucially, deliciously – soup.

I know, right? Soup. Turns out the answer is “gelatine”, but we’ll get to that.

xiaolong bao

Recalling how much we’d enjoyed them, and being non-trivially wonderful, as a Christmas gift, Kit got us both a class learning to make them. It was an oddly serene way to spend a January morning, and thoroughly enjoyable

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Not particularly authentic mapo tofu: meat edition

Mapo tofu is awesome. It’s spicy and numbing in that sichuan pepper way, with just a little richness, ginger for a fresh note, and bags of umami. It tastes of black beans, sichuan pepper, and win.

On a hot evening like tonight, it was amazing with a cold beer.

Mapo tofu

This version is cribbed from the Appetite for China blog, via a little extra reading, and what I had in the fridge. I make no claims for authenticity – I haven’t done that much homework. In fact, I usually make it vegetarian, swapping out the minced pork for aubergine, courgette, or even a little broccoli plus a handful of fine chopped mushrooms for extra depth. Given I’ve an enormous block of tofu still in the fridge, and plenty of veg knocking around, I may well post a veggie version tomorrow.

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