Chinese Garlic Eggplant

I got some lovely, squirly Asian eggplant from a farmer’s stall close to a friend’s house, with the hopes that I could learn how to make one of my favorite restaurant dishes.

Whenever I’m at the San Diego restaurant Spicy City, I always make sure the group orders garlic eggplant — so many of us love the dish it’s usually pretty easy to convince the group to get it 🙂

The key to making my version is to steam the eggplant before stir-frying it. Eggplant really soaks up oil, so if you stir fry raw eggplant you’ll soon find yourself adding more and more oil to the dish. A lot of restaurants cook this dish by actually deep frying the eggplant (aaah!). No wonder it tastes so good! But this version gives you the taste without all the oil. I used a typical western vegetable steamer basket and it couldn’t have been easier.

I had some leftovers and he next day made it into one of my personal favorite dishes – fried rice! Mmm. Super easy, I will post a flexible recipe for fried rice sometime soon.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Asian eggplants (about 1-1/4 lb)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (reduce slightly if not using reduced-sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (you can use balsamic in a pinch)
  • 2 Tbsp Shao Hsing rice wine (my mom likes dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup finely minced scallions

Directions

  1. Prepare eggplant: cut into 2-inch sections, then halve each section lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into thirds to make sticks.
  2. Prepare sauce: in a small bowl combine soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, salt, and pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Steam the eggplant: using a vegetable steamer rack or in your wok. This will take about 6 minutes, check for tenderness with a fork.
  4. Fry together: heat the wok/pan over high heat until very hot. Add vegetable oil, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry 10 seconds until fragrant. Add the cooked eggplant and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Stir the sauce, add it to the wok, and stir-fry about a minute. Drizzle on the sesame oil and scallions, toss and serve!
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