Stuffed aubergines with black bean sauce recipe

For a veggie option, use the thinner end of the aubergines to make the stuffing
For a veggie option, use the thinner end of the aubergines to make the stuffing - Matt Austin

I’ve had this dish lots of times in Chinatown, where the aubergines often come stuffed with minced pork and/or prawns. This version works really well by using the thinner end of the aubergines to make the stuffing.

The black beans are the dried, salted Chinese ones that sometimes come preserved with ginger. They have a unique fermented flavour and you can easily buy them online (like most things these days) if you haven’t got a Chinese supermarket near you.


Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours soaking time

Cook time: 30 minutes




  • 2 large aubergines, about 300g each

  • vegetable or corn oil for frying

For the sauce

  • 2 medium shallots or 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated

  • 30g root ginger, scraped and finely grated

  • 1 medium red or green chilli, finely chopped, seeds included

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

  • 2 tsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water

  • 30g Chinese salted black beans, soaked in cold water for 2 hours and drained (refresh the water after 30 minutes as they can be quite salty)

For the stuffing 

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for frying

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated

  • 20g root ginger, scraped and finely grated

  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice

  • 2 tsp tamarind paste

To garnish

  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced

  • a small handful of coriander leaves


  1. First make the sauce. In a small saucepan, gently cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli in the sesame oil for 3-4 minutes, until soft, without letting them colour. Add the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and 300ml water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes then stir in the cornflour mix. Return to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce is quite thick. Add the black beans and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes then remove from the heat.

  2. Meanwhile, slice four 2cm discs from the wide end of each aubergine. Finely chop the rest.

  3. To make the stuffing, heat the rapeseed oil in a pan and gently fry the chopped aubergine with the garlic, ginger and five spice for 2 minutes. Season, then add the tamarind paste and cook, covered, for another 4-5 minutes, stirring every so often, until the mix is dry. Check the seasoning and adjust as required then leave to cool.

  4. Using a sharp knife, make a 2-3cm slit through the skin in the middle of each aubergine slice and work the point of the knife into the flesh to make a large pocket, taking care not to slice all the way through.

  5. Push as much stuffing as possible into the pockets, again being careful not to break the slices – don’t worry if it bulges out a little. Any leftover stuffing can be spread on toast as a snack.

  6. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan and fry the aubergines on a medium heat, for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden, adding more oil during cooking if the pan looks dry. You may need to do this in 2-3 batches, depending on the size of your pan, topping up with oil as you go. Remove the aubergine slices with a spatula and drain excess oil on kitchen paper.

  7. Reheat the sauce. Arrange the aubergine on a large serving dish or on individual plates, spoon over the sauce and scatter with the spring onions and coriander to serve.