"Steaming brings out a gentle, unfamiliar side to a vegetable that is more commonly fried, baked or grilled," points out Fuschia Dunlop, author of The Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China. She uses simple seasonings to great effect, inspired by the cooking of China’s Lower Yangtze region. Dunlop, an expert in Chinese food, has been collecting these recipes for more than two decades, and was the first Westerner to train at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 500g aubergines
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinkiang vinegar

  • ¼ tsp sugar

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger

  • 1½ tbsp thinly sliced spring onions, green parts only

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

Method

  1. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 1cm slices, then cut these into 1cm strips. Cut the strips into bite-sized lengths and pile them into a bowl that will fit inside your steamer basket.
  2. Place the bowl in the steamer basket and steam over a high flame for 20 minutes, until tender. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Shortly before you wish to serve them, pile the aubergines in a serving dish and top them with the garlic, ginger and spring onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a seasoned wok or saucepan over a high flame until it is very hot. Carefully ladle the hot oil over the garlic, ginger and spring onions – it should produce a dramatic sizzle.
  5. Pour over the soy sauce mixture. Stir the seasonings gently into the aubergines and serve.

The Land of Fish and Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop, is published by Bloomsbury. Photography by Yuki Sugiura. £26; bloomsbury.com