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.
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.)
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 ¼ onion (or shallots), 1 stalk green onions, 1 birds eye chili (or optional ¼ sweet red pepper) and, 3 cloves garlic and set this aside
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons Chinkiang black vinegar, ½ cup cold water, and ½ tablespoon corn starch,.Make sure you are using cold water to prevent the cornstarch from clumping. Set the sauce aside for later. In another bowl, marinate ½ cup ground pork, with ½ teaspoon Shaoxing Cooking Wine, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon oil and ¾ teaspoon cornstarch.Set it aside for later.
Cook the Eggplant
Add some oil into the pan to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and set the stove 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. Don't worry 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!
- 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.
- Some traditional recipes use dried salted fish to give this dish a saltier and more flavorful dish! To use dried salted fish, debone it by removing the fish off the bone by hand (I would use about 1-2 tablespoons of salted fish). If the fish is too dry, and you can't remove the fish off the bone, soak the fish in hot water for 5-10 minutes to soften it. Fry it at the same time you brown the pork to bring out the fragrant flavors, and that's it!
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