Recipe: Whizz Bang Bao | Images: Ashlee DeCaires

Hot and Sour Eggplant

200ml tamarind puree
475ml sunflower, rice bran or coconut oil (to fry eggplant)
2 large eggplant cut into large dice
8 cloves garlic, crushed
4cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large onions, sliced
2 red chillies, de-seeded and sliced
10g fresh curry leaves (stems removed)
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
30 cardamom pods, gently crushed
1 tbsp whole cloves
2 star anise
30g coriander, roughly chopped

Pour 400ml oil into a pan and bring to high heat. Once hot fry the eggplant in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Use a slotted spoon to remove golden eggplant and drain in a paper lined colander. (You can reuse the cooking oil that remains.)

Pour 75ml oil into a large pan on medium heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt. Sauté 5–8 mins until soft then add the chillies and curry leaves. Cook for 5 mins then add the turmeric, garlic, ginger, sugar and curry powder. Stir for 5 minutes.

Mix the tamarind with 100ml water and pour over the onions. Wrap the whole spices (cinnamon, anise, cloves and cardamom) in cheesecloth and secure tightly, then add to the pan. Cook for 9–10 minutes until thick and glossy. Discard the wrapped spices, stir in coriander and season with salt.

Szechuan Tofu

200g tofu
5 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
2½ tbsp flaky salt
3 tbsp cornflour
200ml reserved oil from cooking eggplant

Mix together the cornflour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Slice the tofu into slices approximately ½cm thick then coat with salt and pepper cornflour.

Heat oil in a small pot on high heat and fry the tofu in batches until crispy. Drain in paper lined colander.

To Assemble

12 store bought bao buns (or lettuce leaves to wrap)
Coriander leaves
Crushed peanuts
Sliced red chilli (optional)

Steam your bao buns in a steamer for 5–6 mins (or as directed) until light and fluffy. Fill with 1 tbsp hot and sour eggplant, two pieces of tofu, and coriander, chilli and crushed peanuts. Serve immediately.

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