Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (Eggplant Stir-Fry)
How to make Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce - a quick, simple, flavorful eggplant stir-fry perfect for serving over rice or noodles for a simple mid-week meal! All you need is 11 ingredients, 20 minutes (after salting), for a dish that is naturally vegan and can be made gluten-free.
Chop the eggplant into 1-inch cubes, salt, and set aside for 20 minutes. I like to do this in a colander to naturally drain. You can also lightly pat the pieces with a kitchen towel to remove any excess water (and salt).
Step 2: Prepare the remaining ingredients
Finely chop the chilies. You can adjust the amount of heat by using less chili and/or removing the seeds from the chilies.
Finely chop the spring onion and grate or mince the garlic and ginger (or use ginger paste and garlic paste).
Prepare the stock by combining the stock cube with water and just lightly crush the peppercorns. I did this in a mini mortar and pestle, but you could also place them in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Step 3: Stir-fry the eggplant
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat with the crushed peppercorns. Once hot, remove the larger pepper pieces and add the chili, garlic, and ginger, stirring for a minute.
Add the eggplant and stir-fry for a further two minutes.If you want more of a smoky flavor, you can first grill the eggplant until slightly crispy and smoky. Then add it to the pan in the last few minutes of cooking the sauce. Alternatively, lightly toss the eggplant in cornstarch before pan-frying in a bit of oil (without the sauce) for stovetop slightly smoky flavor.
Add the stock, sugar, soy, and miso, and stir to combine. Then cook for between 10-15 minutes, or until softened with a reduced sauce.If you want the sauce to be thinner, add a little more water or stock to your preference.
Give the Chinese garlic sauce a taste and adjust any ingredients (salt, sugar, chili, etc.), Finally, top with the green onions and some sesame seeds before serving. This Chinese eggplant stir-fry is best enjoyed over rice or noodles for a simple, healthy meal!
How to Make Ahead and Store
Make ahead: Since this recipe can be stored for 4-5 days, it's great for making ahead. For an even quicker meal, you can pre-grill/cook the eggplant and prepare the sauce (reduces and thickened then store in a jar in the fridge) 2-3 days in advance. To prepare the meal, add the eggplant to a pan until heated, then add the sauce and mix until warm- add a little additional water if needed for the Chinese garlic sauce.Fridge: store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered for between 4-5 days.Reheat: reheat the garlic eggplant dish in the microwave or on the stovetop, optionally with a splash of water to thin the sauce once more.
If the sauce is too thin: create a cornstarch slurry with a little cornstarch and water, then add that to the sauce and stir until thickened. Do this right at the end of the cooking process, as it won't take long to thicken.
Adjust the spice: feel free to reduce/increase the chili or chili product used to adjust the spice levels to your personal preference.
Adjust sauce ingredients: in general, most of the sauce ingredients can be adjusted to personal preference (soy for saltiness, sugar for sweetness, etc.)
Soaking the eggplant: instead of salting the eggplant, you could soak it in saltwater instead, which reduces the bitterness, firms up the pieces, and stops them from soaking up as much oil – for healthier dishes. I usually don't do this, but if you wanted to, add the eggplant to a bowl, cover with water and 1 teaspoon salt and keep submerged (weighted if needed) for 15-20 minutes.
Optional Add-insThere are several ways you can adapt this Chinese garlic eggplant stir-fry.
Other vegetables: there are several other veggies you could add, including julienned carrot, mushrooms, and peppers. You could even add a little tomato perhaps (I haven’t tried).
Nuts: instead of the sesame seeds, you could top off the stir-fried eggplant with lightly toasted cashews or peanuts.
Aromatics: in terms of the sauce, there are several ways you can increase flavor - for example, with oyster sauce or hoisin sauce.
Protein: instead of or alongside the eggplant, you could add tofu or chickpeas for added protein.
Check the blog post for more tips and answers to top FAQs.