Szechuan Eggplant and Chicken Hotpot

If there is an eggplant hotpot on the menu, I can’t go past it.  Yummy, hearty, warming.  Healthy? perhaps not.

This recipe came from somewhere on the internet but I find it’s a recipe that you can kinda wing it as you go and pay very little attention to the recipe itself. 
Usually I dice my eggplant because I prefer it smaller.
I ALWAYS, and I mean, always add loads of ginger.
Baby spinach? M’eh.  I tend to go for celery and/or baby bok choy.  Personal preference.  I want the juiciness when I bite into the greens which baby spinach just can’t bring.
I often swap out chicken mince for pork mince. Or do a mix of both.
I keep it pretty soupy and saucy cos that’s how I like it. Not quite a soup but pretty much.
I will certainly right at the end give it a dash of sesame oil for flavour.
I often garnish with a few crushed peanuts.  Gives a nice crunch.
And I pretty much never bother with rice. I’m not much of  a rice eater so I tend not to make it. Again, that’s personal preference.

I’m not Chinese or a chinese cuisine expert but my gut tells me that in China a minced meat hotpot is a pretty laissez faire kinda thang. Like your Italian minestrone, it’s whatever you’ve got in the fridge/freezer/pantry. That’s what goes in.  If you’ve got a minced meat of some kind and a pot to cook it in, that’s a hotpot. The rest is as you see fit.

INGREDIENTS
¼ cup peanut oil
1 large eggplant, halved, sliced
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chilli, sliced
350g chicken mince
8 mushrooms, quartered
¾ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons char sui sauce  (or hoi sin)
1 teaspoon szechuan peppers, pounded in the mortar & pestle
80g baby spinach
sliced green onion
rice, to serve

METHOD
1.Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan on high.
Fry eggplant for 2-3 minutes, until golden and tender. Remove. Set aside and cover.
2.Heat remaining oil in the same saucepan. Saute onion for 2-3 minutes until tender.
Stir in garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute.
3.Add mince and cook for 4-5 minutes, until browned, breaking up lumps with the back of a spoon.
Add mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.
4.Stir in stock, pepper, char sui and eggplant. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes, until slightly thickened.
5.Stir spinach through, cook 1 minute until wilted.
Sprinkle with green onion and serve with rice.

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