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.
How to make the perfect eggplant dish
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.
More delicious eggplant recipes
- Szechuan spicy eggplant
- Crispy Eggplant with Szechuan Meat Sauce
- Di San Xian (Fried Potato, Eggplant and Pepper in Garlic Sauce 地三鲜)
- Grilled Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce (鱼香烤茄子)
Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish!
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (红烧茄子)
- 2 (10 oz. / 300 g) small Chinese long eggplant , chopped to bite-size pieces (*Footnote 1)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Sauce (*footnote 2)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon ginger , minced
- 3 cloves garlic , chopped
- (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 the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, mix well.
- Sprinkle eggplant with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and mix by hand, until eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer of cornstarch.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil to a big nonstick skillet and heat over medium high heat until hot. Spread eggplant across the bottom of the skillet without overlapping. Cook the eggplant one side at a time until all the surfaces are charred and the eggplant turns soft, 8 to 10 minutes in total. Transfer the eggplants to a plate. If the skillet gets too hot and starts to smoke, turn to medium heat.
- Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, the ginger and garlic into the same skillet. Stir a few times until fragrant. Add all the eggplant back into the skillet. 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. Transfer everything to a big plate.
- Serve hot as a side or as main over steamed rice or noodles.
- You can use other type of eggplant and still generate crispy texture if following the method in this recipe. However, Asian long eggplant is the best option.
- This recipe uses very little sauce, just enough to coat the eggplant and make it tastes super flavorful. The rich sauce helps to keep the eggplant staying crispy. Be careful, the sauce will reduce very quickly once you add it to the pan. Stir immediately to coat the eggplant.
- 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.