Chinese Food

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (鱼香茄子)

This recipe is a staple in the Hunan region of China and it makes for delicious, healthy soup with its garlic-infused fish broth. The sauce typically has eggplant and pork stewed together, but we’ve replaced the meat with tofu that will soak up all those tasty flavors without adding too much fat or calories.

The “eggplant with garlic sauce recipe” is a dish that has been around for thousands of years. It’s a classic Chinese dish that is best served with rice.

• Author: Joyce • Published: November 3, 2021 • Modified: November 3, 2021

An easy Chinese eggplant dish created with precisely cooked Asian eggplant served in a wonderful garlic sauce made with ground pork without deep frying or steaming.

Overhead closeup picture of Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce in a large bowl with green onions on top Contents Table of Contents

The Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce, commonly known as Yu Xiang Qiezi (), literally means “fish fragrant eggplant,” however it contains no fish. This hearty meal has deep-fried eggplants mixed in a sweet, sour, salty, and spicy beef sauce.

This Chinese eggplant meal is traditionally prepared by deep-frying eggplant, which swiftly cooks the eggplant through while retaining the gorgeous purple hue. Without utilizing a deep fryer or a steamer, I kept my recipe simple by simulating deep frying in a frying pan and using steam to cook the eggplant all the way through in the same frying pan. This makes this Chinese eggplant recipe less greasy/oily and simpler to cook without the additional equipment.

OverheadChinese eggplant with garlic sauce in a large bowl with a bowl of rice on the side

My favorite part of this yu xiang qiezi eggplant dish is covering it in the delectable garlic pork sauce while eating it with a bowl of white rice. It took many hours of experimenting and dining out to perfect this recipe, but it was well worth the wait, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to make my favorite eggplant meal at home and share it with you.

Chinese Eggplant Ingredients

Ingredients for Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce (chinese eggplant, garlic, onion, pork, soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, ketchup)

  • Chinese eggplant (Asian eggplant) – Use Chinese eggplant for this dish. This dish calls for Italian eggplant, which has a harsh taste and lacks the sweetness of regular eggplant.
  • Ground Pork – Ground pork is traditionally used in Chinese eggplant dishes, but you may use ground chicken or turkey instead.
  • Garlic is a significant flavoring element in the sauce. It can’t be skipped.
  • 1 bird eye chili – I like to add a little fire to the dish by using 1 bird eye chili. It’s an optional ingredient that can be left out if you don’t want it to be spicy.
  • Peppers – Sweet red peppers lend a layer of flavor to the sauce.
  • Onion – This is a crucial element that should not be overlooked. You may also use shallots as an alternative.
  • Green OnionsScallions – This will give the sauce a little more flavor. I prefer to separate the whites from the greens and boil the whites with the sauce while reserving the greens for garnish.
  • Soy sauce and sugar – For this recipe, soy sauce will provide the majority of the umami and saltiness, while sugar will provide the majority of the sweetness.
  • Chinkiang Black Vinegar – The black vinegar adds a little of flavor to the sauce’s tanginess, but if you can’t locate it, rice vinegar will suffice.
  • Ketchup – This isn’t a conventional component in Chinese eggplant, but it’s my garlic sauce recipe’s secret ingredient. It’s a must-have that shouldn’t be skipped or replaced. The ketchup will blend the sauce’s components together and give it the right amount of sweetness, tanginess, and saltiness.
  • Corn Starch – This is used as a thickening for the sauce, but it’s also used as a marinate for the ground pork to make it less tough after it’s cooked.

Overhead closeup picture of Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce in a large bowl

How to Cook Eggplant

  1. Remove the tops of the eggplant and wash it. You may chop them in a variety of ways. Cutting the eggplant into 2-3 inch lengthwise and 1 inch thick slices is the easiest way to do it. The alternative technique to cut it is to hold the eggplant horzontally on the cutting board and cut a little bit off the top at a 45 degree angle, rotate the eggplant and cut it at the same angle, and continue until the eggplant is completely sliced up.

Chinese eggplant cut two different ways. One in 1x3 inch strips, and one in triangle shapes

  1. Soak the eggplant in water for a few minutes. There’s no need to add vinegar or salt; simply simple water would suffice. To keep them immersed in the water, weigh them down with a tiny plate. With the ‘rapid steam’ approach I’ll be utilizing for this dish, the soaking will aid in the cooking of the eggplant. Soak it in water for 5-10 minutes.

Placing a plate down over eggplants to weigh it down into the water to soak

  1. Set aside the finely chopped onions, green onions, red chile (or optional red pepper) and garlic cloves while the eggplant soaks.

Garlic grated, onions and green onions finely chopped in preparation of making chinese eggplant

  1. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl. To keep the cornstarch from clumping, make sure you use cold water. Set aside the sauce for later.

Garlic sauce for chinese eggplant mixed together in a small white bowl

  1. I prefer to use a little cooking wine and corn starch to marinade the minced pork. It’s an optional step that will give the meal a little more taste and texture.

Ground pork mixed together with corn starch and cooking wine in a metal bowl

How to Cook Eggplant in Chinese Style

  1. Remove the eggplant from the water and put it aside.
  2. Set the pan to medium heat with a little oil to gently coat the bottom of the pan. Place the eggplant skin side down in the heated pan. By placing the eggplant skin side down, you can simulate ‘deep frying’ while keeping the skins purple and preventing the eggplant from absorbing the oil. Cook for 3 minutes with the skin side down. If all of the eggplant will not fit in the pan, cook it in two batches.

Cooking Chinese eggplant skin side down in a large frying pan

  1. After 3 minutes, pour 12 cup of water into the pan and cover it. This will soften them by’steaming’ them. 5 minutes of steaming the eggplant
  2. Remove the cover when 5 minutes has passed. By now, the eggplant should be tender. If there is any remaining water, continue to boil the eggplant with the cover open until all of the water has evaporated. Transfer the eggplant to a separate dish and save it for later.

Removing eggplants from pan, once it has pan-fried and 'steamed' in the frying pan once it is soft

  1. Return a little amount of oil to the pan. When the pan is heated, add the pork and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is no longer pink.
  2. Toast the garlic, onions, green onions, chili peppers, and sweet red peppers together for approximately 1-2 minutes, or until everything is aromatic.
  3. Stir the sauce mixture (the corn starch should have sunk to the bottom) and pour it into the pan, swirling constantly until it thickens. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.
  4. Return the eggplant to the pan and stir-fry for 1 minute to allow the eggplant to absorb some of the sauce. Cook the eggplant for no more than 1 minute at this stage, otherwise it will get too soft and break apart and dissolve into the sauce.
  5. Serve it with white rice and a side of veggies, garnished with green onions, and enjoy!

Overhead closeup picture of Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce in a large bowl

Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it necessary to peel the Chinese eggplant? No, you should not peel the eggplant for this recipe since the skin is what keeps the eggplant together; without it, the eggplant would become mushy and nearly dip-like.
  • What is the difference between Italian and Chinese eggplant? Italian eggplant is much bigger than Asian eggplant and has a harsh taste (which is why you always need to salt it to draw out the bitter liquids within it before you use it). Chinese eggplant has no bitterness and, when fully cooked, has a sweet taste and a creamy texture.
  • What is the flavor of Chinese eggplant? It’s not very flavorful, but it has a creamy sweetness to it. It absorbs whatever sauces it is cooked in nicely, making it a great sauce carrier.
  • Do you have any hints for selecting Chinese eggplants at the store? When I go shopping for Asian eggplant, I prefer to go for vibrant purple eggplant. It shouldn’t have any brown spots on it, and it shouldn’t be wrinkled or shriveled since that means it’s been sitting in the shop for too long. It should also be somewhat flexible while picking out sensitive eggplant.
  • Can I use anything else if I can’t get Chinkiang black vinegar? You certainly can! When I run out of black vinegar, I use rice vinegar.
  • To make a saucier final dish, double the ‘Sauce’ part.
  • Although ketchup isn’t a typical component in this recipe, it is my secret ingredient. It’s a crucial component that shouldn’t be skipped or replaced. The ketchup will blend the sauce’s components together and give it the right amount of sweetness, tanginess, and saltiness.
  • If you’re making this in a wok or other seasoned pan, be careful to rapidly wipe off the sauce once you’ve done frying it to avoid the vinegar stripping the seasoning from the pan.

Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce served with green onions on the side placed in a large bowl

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Recipe

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

Garlic Sauce with Chinese Eggplant ()

An easy Chinese eggplant dish created with precisely cooked Asian eggplant served in a wonderful garlic sauce made with ground pork without deep frying or steaming.

15-minute prep time

Time to cook: 20 minutes

35 minutes total

Mode of Preparation Stop your screen from turning black.

INGREDIENTS 

Garlic Sauce Aromatic Ingredients

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

INSTRUCTIONS 

Preparation

  • Remove the tops of the eggplant and wash it. You may chop them in a variety of ways. The easiest method to cut them is to cut them lengthwise into 2-3 inches and 1 inch thick slices. Holding the eggplant horizontally on the cutting board, cut a tiny piece off the top at a 45-degree angle, rotate the eggplant and cut it at the same angle, and continue until the eggplant is completely chopped up is another option.

  • Soak the eggplant in water for a few minutes. There’s no need to add vinegar or salt; simply simple water would suffice. To keep them immersed in the water, weigh them down with a tiny plate. With the ‘rapid steam’ approach I’ll be utilizing for this dish, the soaking will aid in the cooking of the eggplant. Soak in the tub for 5-10 minutes.

  • Finely cut the onions, green onions, red chile (or optional sweet red pepper) and garlic and leave aside while the eggplant soaks.

  • Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl. To keep the cornstarch from clumping, make sure you use cold water. Set aside the sauce for later.

  • With a little cooking wine, salt, oil, and corn starch, marinate the ground pork.

  • Remove the eggplant from the water.

Eggplant should be cooked.

  • Set the pan to medium heat with a little oil to gently coat the bottom of the pan.

  • When the pan is heated, place the eggplant slices skin side down in the hot oil. It will simulate ‘deep frying’ by being added skin side down, which will maintain the skins purple and prevent the eggplant from absorbing the oil. If you can’t fit all of the eggplant into the pan, cook it in two batches. It should take around 3 minutes to cook.

  • After 3 minutes, pour 12 cup of water into the pan and cover it. This will soften them by’steaming’ them. 5 minutes of steaming the eggplant

  • Remove the cover when 5 minutes has passed. By now, the eggplant should be tender. If there is any remaining water, continue to boil the eggplant with the cover open until all of the water has evaporated.

  • Remove the eggplant from the pan and place it on a dish to be used later.

Return the Eggplant to the Garlic Sauce

  • Return a little amount of oil to the pan. When the pan is heated, add the pork and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until it is completely cooked and no longer pink.

  • Cook for 1-2 minutes with the aromatics (garlic, chopped onions, chile (or red pepper), and the whites from the green onions.

  • The sauce should be stirred (the corn starch may have settled to the bottom of the bowl). Pour the sauce into the pan and stir constantly until it has thickened. (This will take around 1-2 minutes)

  • Return the eggplant to the pan and combine everything in a stir fry. For approximately 1 minute, cook the eggplant in the sauce. At this stage, don’t overcook the eggplant; it’s done when it’s tender. If the eggplant is overcooked, it will become too mushy and will dissolve into the sauce.

  • Serve with white rice and a side of veggies, garnished with the green half of the green onions that were left aside, and enjoy!

NOTES

  • To make a saucier final dish, double the ‘Sauce’ part.
  • This dish calls for Italian eggplant, which has a harsh taste and lacks the sweetness of regular eggplant.
  • Ground pork is traditionally used in Chinese eggplant dishes, however ground chicken/turkey may be used instead.
  • This isn’t a typical Chinese eggplant component, but it’s the secret ingredient in my garlic sauce recipe. It’s a must-have that shouldn’t be skipped or replaced. The ketchup will blend the sauce’s components together and give it the right amount of sweetness, tanginess, and saltiness.
  • If you’re making this in a wok or other seasoned pan, be careful to rapidly wipe off the sauce once you’ve done frying it to avoid the vinegar stripping the seasoning from the pan.

NUTRITION

1 serving | 373 calories | 49 grams of carbohydrates | 16 grams of protein | 15 grams of fat | 5 grams of saturated fat | 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat | 7 grams of monounsaturated fat | 1 gram of trans fat | Cholesterol: 41 mg | Sodium: 936 mg | Potassium: 1338 mg | Fiber: 15 grams | Sugar: 31 grams

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The “healthy chinese eggplant recipes” is a dish that is very popular in China. It is usually served with garlic sauce. The eggplant should be cooked until it becomes soft and tender, but not mushy.

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