Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (红烧茄子)

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (vegan) - Cook crispy and flavorful eggplant with the minimum oil and effort | omnivorescookbook.comThe 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.

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (vegan) - Cook crispy and flavorful eggplant with the minimum oil and effort | omnivorescookbook.com

The secret to getting perfect Chinese style eggplant involves two things.

  1. You have to prepare the eggplant properly before cooking in order to get the right texture.
  2. 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:

  1. Spread the sliced eggplant on a towel.
  2. Sprinkle Kosher salt on both surfaces of the sliced eggplant.
  3. Allow to rest for 45-60 minutes.
  4. Pat each surface dry.
  5. Do not rinse the eggplant.

The second way is:

  1. Place the eggplant in a large bowl and add water to cover.
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, mix well.
  3. Place a pot lid on top to keep the eggplant under water for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain and pat dry

The second method requires a bit more effort, but it saves a bit of time. Both ways yield great results.

The Art of Stir-Frying

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 eggplantCrispy Eggplant with Szechuan Meat Sauce, and Turkish Eggplant with Yogurt.

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (vegan) - Cook crispy and flavorful eggplant with the minimum oil and effort | omnivorescookbook.com

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4.9 from 17 reviews
Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (红烧茄子)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Chop eggplant into bite-sized pieces.
  2. (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.
    Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  3. (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.
  4. Combine light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a small bowl, mix well.
  5. Sprinkle eggplant with cornstarch and mix by hand, until eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.
    Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  6. 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.
    Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  7. 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).
    Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Cooking Process | omnivorescookbook.com
  8. Serve warm as a side or as main over steamed rice or noodles.
Notes
The dark soy sauce will add color to the dish and make it look more appetizing. You can skip it if you don’t have any in your pantry.

The nutrition facts are calculated based on 1 of the 4 servings generated by this recipe.

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Nutrition Facts | omnivorescookbook.com

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Born and raised in Beijing, Maggie now calls Texas home. She’s learned to love barbecue, but her heart belongs to the food she grew up with. For her, Omnivore’s Cookbook is all about introducing cooks to real-deal Chinese dishes, which can be as easy as a 30-minute stir-fry or as adventurous as making your own dim sum. Recipes, step-by-step photos and video are the tools she uses to share her knowledge—and her enthusiasm for Chinese food.

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58 thoughts on “Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (红烧茄子)

  1. [email protected]

    I agree cooking eggplant can be tricky but you have nailed it Maggi! I just can’t stare enough at it!

    Reply
  2. Lokness @ The Missing Lokness

    Eggplants are awesome!!! I love them, especially 魚香茄子! I can’t agree more that eggplant is very tricky to cook. You don’t want bland eggplant, and definitely not greasy eggplant. I have not cooked eggplant before. After this post, I feel like I can do it! Next time when I find some Chinese eggplants, I will try this recipe. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Marissa | Pinch and Swirl

    It’s so true that cooking eggplant can be tricky. When people tell me they don’t like it, I always assume that they’ve only had it poorly cooked. This version, however, looks completely delicious. And I love how detailed you are about the process. I’ll definitely try this!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Yep, I’m so agree with you Marissa. I used to hate eggplant dishes, because the poorly cooked ones were just terrible. I’m glad I managed to get a few eggplant recipes. They tasted so great if prepared properly 🙂

      Reply
  4. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine

    Love this dish Maggie! I love eggplant, but have made some terrible eggplant dishes in the past– I wanted to use eggplant in one of my recipes this weekend, so I am using your tips on how to cook it so hopefully mine comes out as beautiful as this!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Michelle, glad you find the method helpful! What dish will you cook? Let me know how it goes! I’d love to learn an new eggplant dish from you!

      Reply
  5. Levan @ MyWifeMakes.com

    OMG Maggie! These eggplants look fantastic! I’m always telling my wife that I’m a bit fussy with eggplant – it has to be prepared just right to taste good for me. And to answer your bio question, I LOVE Chinese Food, so much so that my wife makes fun of me for always sticking to the ‘same style’ of food. But I can’t help it. I grew up on it and still love it ! I’m bookmarking your blog cause it’s packed full of the kinds of recipes I love most of all!! CHINESE FOOD!!!

    It’s great to have connected on our blogs. Thanks so much for dropping by! And now I’m gonna mega visit your blog too cause it’s amazing. And we ain’t just saying it too. Love it! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hey Levan, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving all the kind words! You have a great deal of super nice Chinese food on your blog, and I really love the vegetarian style! I remember that you’re from Singapore right? I’ve been there once and man, the chili crabs are SO GOOD!
      Looking forward to chatting more with you. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

      Reply
  6. Bam's Kitchen

    Asian eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables to prepare. It is kind of tricky to prepare. Love how gorgeous your version turned out. Beautiful photos! I make something a little different that came from one of the chefs at Crystal Jade Xioa Long Bao. He taught me to deep fry the eggplant for just a moment quick flash fry and they add the delicious sauce toppings for a fun appetiser. I could eat eggplant every day and never tire of it. I am off to see your other eggplant recipes. Take Care, BAM

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Bobbi, the fried method you mentioned, I believe it’s THE authentic way to cook eggplant in most of the Chinese restaurant. It will create a super crispy surface that you cannot get from stir-fry. The only reason I reluctant to cook this way is because I need to use a lot of oil at the first place. Although you can save the oil to use later, sometimes I’m just too lazy to do that 😉 Have a great week and hope the cooking goes well 🙂

      Reply
  7. Christine | No Gojis, No Glory

    Eggplant is definitely one of those veggies I tend to avoid! They’ve always been a bit of a mystery to me, but the way you’ve prepped this dish sounds (and looks) very tasty. I find that sprinkling salt to draw out moisture is very helpful for other veggies too. I use that method often for zucchini and cucumbers.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Oh right! It’s totally make sense to apply the salt method for zucchini and cucumbers too. I will try them out when I grill veggies next time. Thanks so much for reminding me this! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Nancy | Plus Ate Six

    I did a Chinese cooking class a couple of months back and the amount of oil poured into the wok to cook the eggplant put me off – which is a shame because I absolutely love it cooked Chinese style. So now I’m going to have to give it another go – I’d eat a plate of this with rice all by myself 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Nancy, I know! Unfortunately it’s the way to cook most Chinese stir fried dishes and the reason why the restaurant version always tastes better! Happy cooking 🙂

      Reply
  9. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Maggie, this and stir fried green beans are my FAVORITE FAVORITE dishes!!! My kids are so tired of me ordering this (and I don’t). Thanks for all the tips. I usually do the #2 method to soak the eggplant. I love eggplant that I don’t mind prepping at all… Looks so good. I wish I have this right in front of me.

    Reply
  10. Amanda M

    Omg I am obsessed with eggplant and am so happy to find this recipe with tips! Will definitely try these prep methods. Thanks a million!

    Reply
  11. michelle

    I just tried your recipe. Heavenly! It will now be part of my cooking routine! It tastes as good as it looks. Love it.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Michelle, thanks for leaving me a comment and I’m so happy to hear you like my recipe! This is one of my favorite ways to cook eggplant. It goes great with rice 🙂 Have a great day!

      Reply
  12. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Maggie!! This is such a beautiful dish! The light in your photos is just stunning… and now I feel like cooking eggplant for dinner with plenty of rice!

    Btw, I’d love to include this eggplant recipe in a vegetarian roundup I’m doing for Parade Magazine.

    If you’re fine with that, could I use one of your photos with a linkback to your original post? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Felicia, I’m so glad to hear you like this dish! Of course, please feel free to use this recipe in the roundup. Looking forward to the post 🙂

      Reply
        1. Maggie Post author

          Hi Felicia, sorry for the late reply! Thanks so much for including my recipe on Parage Mag and I’m hopping over to do sharing and pinning!
          Have a great week ahead 🙂

          Reply
  13. Betsy

    Winner, winner. We made this tonight for our all vegetarian dinner after finding the eggplants at the Farmers Market. I can’t wait to make it again. Delish!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for leaving a comment and I’m so glad to hear you tried my recipe Betsy! This is one of my favorites and I make it at home all the time 🙂

      Reply
  14. [email protected]

    Oooh Maggie! I LOVE your tip for how to stop the eggplant from absorbing oil! I HAVE TO TRY THIS ASAP!! 🙂

    Reply
  15. Adriana

    Made it and it turned out great! I added broccoli and ended up doubling the sauce because of it, but it was very delicious. Thanks for the recipe! I was looking for something new to do with my chinese eggplants. Of course, eggplant tends to take a while, but I let it sit with the salt while I was cooking my brown rice.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Adriana, I’m so glad to hear you like this dish! I never added broccoli into this dish, but it sounds delicious! Yes, eggplant takes extra time and effort to cook, but the result is always rewarding isn’t it 🙂 Thanks for leaving a comment to let me know! Hope you have a super weekend!

      Reply
  16. DIANNA

    How do i make it to where the eggplant is crispy on the outside but very mushy on the inside? I tried doing this dish but my eggplants were half mushy and the other half was spongy like dried apples xD

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Dianna, I’m sorry to hear the dish didn’t turn out as good as you hoped. To make truly crispy eggplant with mushy inside (like the ones in a restaurant), you need to deep fry the eggplant. It requires a lot of oil (although you can save the leftover oil to use later), so I don’t usually fry the eggplant for a simple dish like this. To solve the “dried apples” problem, I will add one or two more spoons oil while I grill different side of the eggplant (a bit more calories, but more delicious). So the surface won’t be too dry. The texture will become soft eventually if you cook long enough.
      Hope this is helpful and looking forward to hear your feedback if you decide to cook this dish again 🙂

      Reply
  17. Emily P.

    I’ve made this dish a few times now and I prefer to take the skin of the eggplant since it can be bitter and tough to chew…I add extra garlic, ginger and green onion (you can’t have too much of these!) and it is AWESOME! Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks so much for taking time and leave the comments Emily! Wow, you tried many of the dishes! You just made my day 🙂
      As for the eggplant, I’d remove the skin if I’m using the round or the fat eggplant. If you can get the long Asian eggplant, you’ll find the skin much tender and thin. 100% agree with the extra herbs. I always add plenty without measuring them (unless I’m developing a recipe)!
      You’re the most welcome. Have a wonderful week Emily 🙂

      Reply
  18. Cathleen

    I made this last night and LOVED it! I did add some ground pork in it. I will definitely make this again and again.

    NO MORE frying eggplant in oil and end up with oily eggplant as it absorbs all the oil.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m so glad you like this dish Cathleen! Me too, I don’t fry eggplant anymore after I discovered this method. The ground pork sounds so delicious! Next time I’ll add some too 🙂

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks for letting me know Kate, and I’m so glad to hear you like the recipe! I agree, this dish is so easy to cook and the result is very rewarding!
      Have a great day 🙂

      Reply
      1. Kate

        Having it again tonight! It was really crispy outside and soft on the inside without using too much oil. Love it. Thanks again!

        Reply
  19. Frances

    I love Chinese egfplant, and have tried several recipes like this, looking for just the right taste and texture. This one looked good, and I made it exactly as directed. This was the best Chinese eggplant I ever had! I can’t even think if a restaurant that could beat it. My husband likes it spicy, so I added some dried red chilis. He complained because there wasn’t more-that’s how much we ate! I’m making it again right now! Your technique of salting the egfplant and then adding the cornstarch makes all the difference. I’ll be sure to check out your other recipes. Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Frances, thanks so much for taking time and reporting back your cooking result! I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the dish! Adding chili pepper into it sounds very delicious! I do love my food spicy so I’d like to try it out next time too 🙂
      Happy cooking and hopefully your other dishes will turn out great too!

      Reply
  20. lizzie

    I made this dish but only soaked the eggplant for 5 minutes in the water and then using tapioca starch. Works just as well. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Wow, that sounds great! Will try next time and see how it goes. Sorry I haven’t replied your email yet. Still remember it 🙂
      Have a great start of the week Lizzie!

      Reply
  21. Liliford

    Eating this dish as a main right now, I used American eggplant and the skin is a bit too thick but otherwise it’s very very good. I’m going to get a Chinese eggplant next time I’m near the Asian markets, but I didn’t have time to go this week and I was eager to try it. Definitely one of my favorite dishes now.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m so glad to hear you like the dish! I use American eggplant quite often too, because it is a long trip to Asian market. Sometimes I use mini eggplants because the their skin is thinner. Asian eggplants definitely work better, because they also contain less water.
      Hope you have a great weekend and happy cooking 🙂

      Reply
  22. Nanci

    I love eggplant but have only one or two recipes. I have been salting it for years, too. I usually make it Italian-style. Needed a new recipe! This sounds awesome.

    Reply
  23. Peggy

    This is a terrific recipe! I had an eggplant in my farm share that I didn’t know what to do with it. I made this and it was so good I bought several more eggplants.

    Reply
  24. Glenn

    Great recipe. Added a little oyster sauce and fish sauce to the gravy, halving the sugar. Carmelized a yellow onion first and stirred that in with the eggplant to balance the sweetness. Serve it over a nice hearty brown rice. Also quick boiled shrimp and stirred it in at the last second to add protein, texture and soak up all that delicious sauce. This is a keeper

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Glenn, I LOVE the addition of fish sauce and oyster sauce. It reminds me of a dish I had before. YUM! Also, great idea to add a protein towards the end. That makes it a full meal!
      Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and I’m looking forward to trying it out 🙂

      Reply