This is an easy black bean recipe with aubergine (egg plant). It uses the cooking liquid left over from cooking black beans. You can then use the black beans themselves for something. The liquid has a deep, rich flavour, which lends extra body to this simple dish. (If you want an easy black bean recipe that uses the beans themselves, see also Black Bean And Corn Salad)
This recipe has no name, as I invented it myself. But consider it a Chinese style dish. While the black beans involved are actually Mexican black beans, the richness of the flavour of the cooking liquid works very well to give a Chinese impression. The ginger and garlic add to that and set the flavour off.
I actually came to this idea because I had three things in the fridge I needed to use before leaving on a trip: an aubergine, a pack of beansprouts, and some black bean broth. I remembered how aubergines are best cooked with water, rather than directly fried. If you shallow fry aubergines, they tend to dry out, and never reach that melt in the mouth texture which makes them so wonderful.
So given my situation with the three ingredients, I thought of a cool idea; instead of “water frying” I could “bean stock fry” the aubergine. I would use the rich, flavourful stock left over from boiling black beans and evaporate it while frying the aubergine. The end result would be a concentrated black bean flavour and soft, tender aubergines. I usually “water fry” aubergines, which means to add a little water to a frying pan, and boil it with the vegetables, stirring every so often to make sure it gets evenly cooked. If you do this right, all the water evaporates; this means none of the nutrients of the vegetable gets carried away with the cooking water.
I gave it a try. And, it worked.
Not everyone likes the dark appearance of the recipe, but it does taste good. And I think the black colour contrasts nicely with the rice it is served on. I’ll leave it to you to decide.
After trying my own recipe, I decided to make a change for this website: instead of beansprouts, I suggest you use spring onions, a.k.a. green onions or scallions. That will give a lift to the flavour and also look less disconcertingly like worms.
Ingredients for Easy Black Bean Recipe With Aubergine
1 1/2 cups of rice + 1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (350ml) black bean stock (from black beans you cooked yourself; see How To Cook Black Beans if you need a primer).
2 cups (1/2 a litre) spring onions/green onions/scallions. (If you’re determined to do my original version, use 4 cups of beansprouts. Don’t fry these separately in this case, just mix with the aubergine)
1 cup cooked black beans (optional)
1 fat clove of garlic (or two thinner ones)
1 large chunk of ginger root (about 2cm x 2cm x 2cm, or 1 1/2 inches cubed).
1/2 tsp salt
Put the rice on to boil. If it’s white rice, add 3 cups of water to it. If it’s brown rice or basmati rice, add a little more (they may need up to 4 1/2, but if you don’t know the rice start with 3 and 3/4 cups and add another 3/4 if necessary). Add 1/3 tsp salt. Cover. Once the rice is boiling, turn the heat down. It should be done when all the water is absorbed.
Chop the garlic and ginger finely. Chop the spring onions into 5cm strips. Set these ingredients aside.
Then chop the aubergine; slice it first into 1 1/2 cm (1 inch) rounds, and then cut sticks from those rounds, 1 1/2 cm wide (about four cuts per round). Add the aubergine to the pan with the black bean stock and the salt.
Bring the black bean stock to the boil. Now, “water fry” – or whatever you call it in this case – until the stock is boiled away 4/5.
Keep water-frying, and keep stirring, until all of the liquid has evaporated away.
Meanwhile fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions. If you don’t have a separate pan to do this, you can wait until you’ve finished water-frying the aubergine, or use a non-stick cooking pot as a frying pan. I like to add a generous amount of oil and fry on maximum heat, stirring constantly. You can also cook on a lower heat if you’re more comfortable with that.
Stir the aubergine mixture, the black beans, and the spring onion mixture together.
Serve with rice.