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Overhead closeup picture of Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce in a large bowl served with green onions on the side
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5 from 8 votes

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (鱼香茄子)

An easy Chinese eggplant recipe made with perfectly cooked Asian eggplant without deep frying or using a steamer and cooked in a delicious garlic sauce made with ground pork.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Servings: 2
Calories: 373kcal
Author: Joyce Lee

Ingredients

  • 2 Chinese eggplants

Aromatics for the Garlic Sauce

  • ¼ onion (approx. 2 tablespoons), or 1 shallot
  • 1 stalk green onions (finely chopped, whites and greens seperated)
  • 3 cloves garlic (approx. 1 tablespoon)
  • ¼ sweet red pepper (2 tablespoons, finely chopped)
  • 1 birds eye chili (optional, if you like it spicy.)

Sauce (For a Saucier dish, double the amount of this section)

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoon Chinkiang black vinegar (or 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar)
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

Pork Marinade

  • ½ cup ground pork (120g)
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • ¾ teaspoon corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon shaoxing wine (optional)

Instructions

Preparation

  • Wash the eggplant and cut off the tops. You can cut them a few ways. The simplest way to cut them is to cut the eggplant into 2-3 inches lengthwise, and 1 inch thick.
  • Soak the eggplant in water. Use a small plate to weigh them down so they stay submerged in the water. The soaking will help with cooking the eggplant with the 'quick steam' method I will be using for this recipe. Soak for 5-10 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is soaking, finely chop the onions, green onions, red chili (or optional sweet red pepper) and, garlic and set this aside
  • Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Make sure you are using cold water to prevent the cornstarch from clumping. Set the sauce aside for later.
  • Marinate the ground pork with a bit of cooking wine, salt, oil and corn starch.
  • Drain eggplant

Cook the Eggplant

  • Add some oil into the pan to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and set it to medium heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add eggplant pieces in, skin side down against the hot oil. By adding it skin side down, it will mimic the 'deep frying' and keep the skins purple and prevent the eggplant from absorbing the oil. If you cannot fit all the eggplant in the pan, you may have to cook it in 2 batches. Cook it for about 3 minutes.
  • Once 3 minutes is up, add ½ cup of water into the pan and put a lid on it. This will 'steam' them until they are soft. Steam the eggplant for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Once 3-5 minutes is up, remove the lid. The eggplant should be soft by now. If there is still a bit of water left, you can continue to cook the eggplant with the lid off until all the water dissolves.
  • Remove the eggplant out of the pan onto a plate and set aside for later

Make the Garlic Sauce and Add Eggplant Back

  • Add a bit more oil back into the pan. Once the pan is hot, add in the pork and cook it for approximately 3-4 minutes or until it is fully cooked and no longer pink.
  • Add in the aromatics (garlic, minced onions, chili (or red pepper), the whites from the green onions and cook it for 1-2 minutes with the pork.
  • Stir the sauce (the corn starch may have settled to the bottom of the bowl). Add the sauce into the pan and keep stirring it until the sauce has thickened. (Approximately 1-2 minutes)
  • Add the eggplant back in and stir fry everything together. Cook the eggplant in the sauce for about 1 minute. Do not overcook the eggplant at this point, once the eggplant is soft it is done. If you overcook it, the eggplant will become too soft and may dissolve into the sauce.
  • Garnish it with the green part of the green onions that were set aside and serve it with white rice and a side of vegetables and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can double the 'Sauce' section to get a saucier final dish.
  • Do not use Italian eggplant for this recipe, it has a bitter flavor and does not have the same sweetness to it.
  • Traditionally, Chinese eggplant recipes use ground pork, but you can substitute it with ground chicken/turkey.
  • Ketchup is not a traditional Chinese eggplant ingredient but it is my secret ingredient for the garlic sauce recipe. It's a must-have and should not be omitted or substituted. The ketchup will bring all the flavors of the sauce together and give it that perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and saltiness.
  • If you are using a wok, or any seasoned pan for this recipe, make sure you quickly wash off the sauce right after you have finished cooking it so that the vinegar doesn't strip off the seasoning from your pan.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 936mg | Potassium: 1338mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 499IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg