The eggplant is grilled until crispy and smoky, and then cooked in a rich savory garlic sauce. This vegan dish is very satisfying, both as a side or a main dish served over rice or noodles.
Eggplant is a very tricky vegetable to cook. If you don’t season it properly, it will taste bitter or extremely plain. If you use too little oil, the texture will be mushy and create an awful mouthfeel. If you use too much oil, the eggplant might turn soggy and greasy.
If you don’t like cooking eggplant at home, you probably have some of the worries below:
- Eggplant is quite time consuming to cook, compared to the average vegetable.
- You’ll end up eating more calories without getting an impressive flavor.
That is why I’m posting this Chinese eggplant recipe today, to help you to create a wonderful eggplant dish nearly effortlessly.
This recipe offers the simplest way to cook a great eggplant dish without using too much oil, and avoids soggy and plain eggplant with the minimum needed cooking time.
The secret to getting perfect Chinese style eggplant involves two things.
- You have to prepare the eggplant properly before cooking in order to get the right texture.
- You need to make a sauce that is flavorful enough.
To prepare the eggplant, there are two ways to do it.
Before introducing the first method, I want to thank my friend Steve S. He taught me this method quite a long time ago, to prevent the eggplant from absorbing oil.
The method is:
- Spread the sliced eggplant on a towel.
- Sprinkle Kosher salt on both surfaces of the sliced eggplant.
- Allow to rest for 45-60 minutes.
- Pat each surface dry.
- Do not rinse the eggplant.
The second way is:
- Place the eggplant in a large bowl and add water to cover.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, mix well.
- Place a pot lid on top to keep the eggplant under water for 15 minutes.
- Drain and pat dry
The second method requires a bit more effort, but it saves a bit of time. Both ways yield great results.
Once you’ve finished either of the methods above, there is one more step – after the eggplant is completely dry, sprinkle cornstarch over it and mix by hand, until the eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.
Using this method, you can create crispy and nicely charred eggplant on the stovetop in 10 minutes. No need to turn on the oven to get the smoky flavor!
Creating a good sauce is really easy. Just mix everything together and pour it over the eggplant at the end of cooking. If you want a different sauce, check out my other eggplant recipes: Szechuan spicy eggplant, Crispy Eggplant with Szechuan Meat Sauce, and Turkish Eggplant with Yogurt.
Do you like my recipes? Sign up our weekly newsletter to get the latest updates delivered to your inbox and a FREE e-cookbook that contains my top 30 most popular recipes!
- 2 (400 grams in total) Chinese (long) eggplant, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch, plus more to coat the eggplant
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce (*see footnote)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Chop eggplant into bite-sized pieces.
- (Option 1) Place eggplant in a large bowl and add water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt, mix well. Place a pot lid on top to keep the eggplant under water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
- (Option 2) Spread the sliced eggplant out on a paper towel. Sprinkle Kosher salt on both sides of the eggplant slices. Allow to rest for 45-60 minutes. Pat dry without rinsing.
- Combine light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a small bowl, mix well.
- Sprinkle eggplant with cornstarch and mix by hand, until eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to a nonstick skillet and heat over medium high heat until warm. Spread eggplant across the bottom of the skillet without overlapping. Grill the eggplant one side at a time until all the surfaces are charred and the eggplant turns soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining batch(es) with the same method (I cooked two batches by using a 24" skillet). If the skillet gets too hot and starts to smoke, turn to medium heat.
- Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and the ginger and garlic into the same skillet. Stir a few times until fragrant. Add all the eggplant back into the skillet. Turn to medium heat. Mix the sauce again until cornstarch is fully dissolved and pour it over the eggplant. Immediately stir a few times, until the eggplant is evenly coated and the sauce thickens. Turn to lowest heat and taste a piece of eggplant (be careful, it’s very hot). To adjust seasoning, turn to medium heat again, sprinkle eggplant with a pinch of salt and mix well (if you will serve this dish as a side, it should be salty enough. But for serving over steamed rice, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt).
- Serve warm as a side or as main over steamed rice or noodles.
The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 4 servings generated by this recipe.