Chinese Spiced Aubergines & Cast Iron Excitement

Don’t you just love it when something you want falls into your lap? Well, sort of. Best buddy Ria had been raving about a book she had recently bought by Gok Wan. It seems he makes programmes about making women look and feel good about themselves but as I had not been in the UK (previously at least) and seen his programmes, he was unknown to me. Then, it seems, he bought out a cookbook. As you do. I was very doubtful about the whole thing but got to look at her book which he had written based on his experiences as a young man working in his father’s Chinese Take Away Restaurant. Home cooking made speedy, and Ria had successfully cooked and  thoroughly enjoyed several recipes so I threw away my scepticism.

5 Spice Aubergines MAin

A few days later I was wandering round a Car Boot Sale, a particularly British institution I think, and someone was selling a brand new copy of the book for a couple of pounds. Cleary a sceptic like me (but unconverted) so I snapped it up. Well…I’ve already cooked several recipes from this book and every one has been tasty and easy. Even Big Man, who is not a particular fan of Chinese Food, has commented on the wonderful flavours each dish has. A result!

Here’s a vegetable dish that I made (inspired by a recipe for Braised Aubergine with Pork from the book) and served with noodles, no meat needed, the texture of the aubergines is wonderful and filling too.

Ingredients (per person as a main course or for two as a side dish)

  • 1 aubergine cut into cubes
  • Half a pepper, cut into slices
  • Half an onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice
  • Water (about 200ml)
  • Sesame or vegetable oil for frying
  • Fresh chili (optional) I used dried as that’s what I had available
  • Finely sliced spring onion to garnish

Add a little oil to a wok or large frying pan and fry the onions on a medium heat until softened then add the aubergine, peppers and garlic. Turn up the heat and cook until the aubergines start to char at the edges.  Add the 5 spice, soy sauces (and chili if using) and then pour over water until the vegetables are about half covered. Stir gently, turn the heat down, cover with a lid or foil and simmer until the aubergines start to turn pulpy and the peppers are soft. Stir once or twice during cooking (about 10 minutes). Most of the liquid will evaporate and the sauce will be slightly sticky.

Sprinkle the spring onion over the aubergines to serve.  Wonderful with rice or noodles. Who needs a book to tell you how to dress to feel good about yourself when you can eat food like this and feel amazing?!

If you’re still craving Asian aubergine dishes, take a look at Rosemary’s beautiful Spicy Aubergine with Beef.

And before I wish you all a beautiful rest of the weekend, what do you think of the fabulous cast iron fire surround some pals gave to us? They of the lace and fabric are now giving us an amazing Victorian original which came out of their home during a refurb. Love that we’re using so much beautiful “preloved” stuff in our Down By The Sea Home.


Finally, a gratuitous pup shot. Well…it is the weekend.



63 thoughts on “Chinese Spiced Aubergines & Cast Iron Excitement

  1. You have to be careful about Gok – he seems to want all women to take their clothes of on TV! Though I have seen some Spanish game shows like that…
    Nudity aside, the recipe sounds very good and I love your new fireplace 😉

    1. Yes, the nudity is a worry. Luckily the public need not worry that I’ll be baring all (horrific thought) I’ll just stick to the cooking! The book is actually rather impressive. I didn’t want to like it but I do 🙂

  2. What fabulous ratatouille Chinese style! Love eggplants so this will go on the menu schedule promptly. Since sesame oil has such a pronounced flavour I’ll fry in rice bran oil [my new fave] and sprinkle a teaspoon of sesame as final dressing. Love the fireplace surround and patted your lovely pups on their screen bottoms 🙂 !

    1. Yes, I don’t like too much sesame oil (it’s expensive here too!). Have never heard of rice bran oil, will have to check that out…the pups say thanks for their virtual pat 🙂

  3. Gosh, Tanya. Even us colonials down-under have heard of Gok Wan. Didn’t know that he had a cookbook though.
    I’ve only ever grown aubergines once, and never been impressed enough with the look of them to cook them more than once – however this recipe looks tempting enough to break an old habit.
    When we built our first house on the farm, we acquired a large beautiful wooden mantelpiece, with little side shelves and carvings. Even though it was old and went into a new house, it looked fabulous. I loved it.

    1. Aha – Gok is Down Under too! He’s a funny one, but from the little I’ve seen of him on tv he’s quite entertaining in his way. The cookbook has really impressed me. That wooden mantelpiece sounds amazing, I bet it looked great!

  4. Sounds like a great dish & cookbook, Tanya. The best part is that the ingredients are commonplace, if one doesn’t already own them. I’d probably serve it over polenta, though. Old habits really do die hard. That cast iron surround is such a fantastic gift! With or without a fire’s flames, it will bring its own warmth to your fireplace. I look forward to seeing it installed. 🙂

    1. Don’t see why you can’t serve an Asian style dish over polenta…fusion cooking at its best! We were very lucky to have been given such a beautiful fire surround and I’m itching to put it in but it might have to wait until we come back later in the year as we still have to sort out basics like a loo and doors!

  5. Ah yes Gok. He’s and interesting bloke eh and it seems he is able to spin a recipe or two after all. Thanks for the ‘review’ Tanya.

    I love the look of the dish (and the glorious colours of the previous post …… and cloud reference) …. might have to sneak the aub. in though as my family are sceptical of such things. Heathens all, they certainly are.

    And what a fantastic gorgeous thing to have around your fireplace 🙂 Do you have to do much restoration work on it?

    1. Big Man is not a huge aubergine fan either…oh well, more for us! Luckily my pal who took the fireplace out has completely stripped it, so all we have to do is rub it down and paint it with some special paint and install…how easy is that?! We’ll need to search out an insert though or have some tiled or marble panels made up. It will be fun!

      1. It was wonderful!! I really loved it! I did not get a chance to take pictures but I know I will be making it again and again. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe

  6. Haha.. when I saw your title I thought you’d acquired a new cast iron pan:D But.. I’d love that fireplace surround/mantle any day in my home. It will be stunning. I have never heard of that Gok Wan, but I like the sounds of that cookbook. It’s always great finding a bargain like that, eh? I found 3 cups (missing saucers) for $3 each, they are flo blue china and I’m in heaven:D Have an awesome weekend!! xx

    1. I agree, I love finding bargains and your china sounds gorgeous. I am sure we’ll be seeing it in some of your stunning photos soon 🙂 Was excited about my fireplace but would have been equally excited about a pan!

  7. That is a wonderful chinese vegetarian dish. So good. I have seen Gok Wan on some TV commercials and that’s where I’m going to leave him – but he certainly seems to have remembered some good recipes from his Hong Kong days.

  8. Right, seems I need to sniff out a copy of this book too then. I don’t want to be the odd one out here.
    gorgeous fire surround and the pups are doing a stellar job of being cute while having a nap.
    Have a beautiful Sunday.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    1. Oh do buy the book if you come across it…very user friendly recipes! Those pups can look cute even when surrounded by dust, plaster and general building mayhem 🙂

  9. Oh, lucky you – on all counts!
    I miss having the time/freedom to go to yard sales to hunt treasure – though Hubby and I disagree on my definition of ‘treasures,’ he’d be thrilled if I found a useful cookbook…and maybe even the firebox surround!

  10. Lovely, earthy recipe…it’s nice to have a meatless meal every once in awhile and especially served a top noodles. I too am always searching for cookbooks, even those that have been well-loved. It’s fun to find a treasure or be the happy recipient of a treasure like your “new” fireplace” surround. I much prefer well-loved pieces with some history than shiny and new. Your pups are darling.

  11. Oh you LUCKY girl! That fire surround is magnificently gorgeous to the MAX! Give your friend an extra hug for that one :). I LOVE Gok. I couldn’t stand the man when he was telling large naked women how gorgeous they were because it’s all bollocks BUT I got dragged in to watch his cooking show and he is like Nigel Slater, a wonderful gay man who was born to cook and share. Love it and love Gok. He even taught me how to use chopsticks FINALLY!!! ;). Glad you are a new convert and kudos on the book for a couple of pounds. It is like hens teeth here in Aus and there is no WAY I would find it cheap here so I am going to pilfer every single recipe that you share here as a sort of defiant last stand against the corporate “Man” 😉 Something to do with my exponentially increasing supply of those thin Japanese eggplants that my plants keep producing en masse. They are still flowering well into autumn! 😉

    1. I’m with you on the clothes bit (I did get to see one programme) but I do think he really has proved himself in the kitchen. I will be posting ,ore recipes but what I would really, really love to do is send you a copy of the book…will you let me do that?! If you’re up for it, e-mail me and I can sort it out. Would love to think of a a little gift from Chica and Big Man finding shelf space on Serendipity Farm!

      1. “FAINTING!”. Seriously though Tanya, it would cost you a fortune. I adore Gok and am a true convert. Much as I adore Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. There is something amazingly “real” about all of them and their recipes are the stuff that dreams are made of :). You are generosity personified girl :).

      2. 3rd time of trying to write a reply. I have a new laptop with Windows 8 and it flies all over the place (the screen, not the laptop!) and things keep going wrong. God I hate it! Anyway. We seem to share the same taste in food writers. I love NS’s Taste as it’s all about growing things seasonally, cooking and eating – which HFW is pretty much all about too. But Gok seriously impressed me and am loving his book! Let’s “talk” by e-mail as I have been very lucky to receive some lovely things from blogging pals and I very much believe in “sharing the love” 🙂

  12. I’m not familiar with Gok Wan, but this recipe he inspired sounds amazing. I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, but I would very much enjoy it prepared this way. That is some generous and beautiful gift. A cast iron fire and surround. It’s been many a day since I’ve seen one of those. Lucky girl! 🙂

    1. We have had some amazing gifts from these friends who are downsizing. They’re happy their things are going to still be loved and we love that we can continue to enjoy them 🙂

  13. Love the pups. We took Miles for a long walk this morning and he is tuckered out now. I love it 🙂 Spiced Aubergine sounds great!

  14. I too was imagining a cast iron wok when I read the title, so the Victorian fireplace was a nice surprise. Could not bring myself to watch Gok’s cooking show when it was on, but that recipe does sound good and will be made tonight! Love the pups 🙂

  15. Ah, I saw his Chinese cookery show recently on TV… I didn’t realise he moonlighted as a fashion consultant (or rather as his main job). His food looked so good – really makes me want to make more Chinese food 🙂

    Love that fireplace Chica – very cool… they don’t make them like that anymore!

    1. Some people know him from his fashion stuff and others from his cooking – I didn’t know him at all! Thanks for the kind words about the fireplace, we thrilled to bits with it 🙂

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