Chinese Food

Steamed eggplant with garlic sauce

Steamed eggplant is the easiest and healthiest eggplant recipe.

I have published several recipes for baked or roasted eggplant. They’re delicious, but if you prefer a lighter, healthier option, this Chinese recipe for steamed eggplant with garlic sauce 蒜蓉蒸茄子 will delight your taste buds with its tender texture and tangy flavor.

The dressing is a combination of garlic and chilli, vinegar and soy sauce to achieve the perfect balance of flavours that will delight your taste buds.

Let’s get into the details.

The aubergine is also called eggplant in English, German, French and Dutch. In South Asia they are called brinjal.

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How to prepare steamed eggplant with Chinese garlic sauce

The preparation is very similar to other Chinese eggplant recipes, except that the sauce is poured over the eggplant, as is the dressing.

1. Preparations before steaming eggplant

This step is crucial to obtain the purple colour of the aubergine.

  • Remove both ends of the eggplant.
  • Cut the eggplant into strips 4 to 6 inches long and about half an inch wide.
  • Immediately after cutting, place them in a pan of cold water so that the exposed parts of the eggplant do not brown.
  • Add a teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of white vinegar to the water and stir.  The salt and vinegar help preserve the purple color of the eggplant skin while cooking.
  • Soak the aubergine in a solution of salt and vinegar for ten minutes. Turn off and deflate. The salt and vinegar do not need to be rinsed off, as both are seasonings for eggplant.

Message: I compared the color of the eggplant by soaking them in a salt and vinegar solution and applying a thin layer of oil to the eggplant. This is a test of a method used by some chefs to obtain this beautiful purple color. The result shows that the color becomes brighter and deeper when soaked in water with salt and vinegar.

2. Steamed eggplant

Steaming is a simple method that gives a purer taste than frying or baking. It tastes like a salad with vinaigrette.

  • Set up a steaming station with a wok and a stool, or use a steaming pan if you have one.
  • Arrange the aubergine slices crosswise in the steam cooker, so that the steam can flow through the aubergines optimally during the steaming process.
  • When the water is boiling, place the eggplants in the steamer.
  • Steam for ten to twelve minutes until the aubergine is cooked through and soft.  This step is necessary because an eggplant that is not cooked does not taste good. You can select one of them (the biggest piece to be safe) at the tenth minute to decide if you want to steam it longer.
  • Remove the steamed eggplant pieces and set aside.

3. Prepared spicy Chinese garlic sauce

a. Main ingredients for the Chinese garlic sauce recipe

The main ingredients of this sauce are garlic and chili pepper.

Roughly chop the garlic and set aside. I use one bulb of garlic, about 50g/2oz, for peeling. Feel free to increase the amount if you like the taste of garlic.

In addition to the garlic, I add finely chopped ginger to enhance the flavor,

There are two types of chili in this Chinese steamed eggplant recipe. The largest variety is the Thai pepper, which is between 10 and 15 cm long. These peppers are not very hot, so I use them for their flavor. I use both green and red peppers to make the sauce more colorful. Remove the seeds by cutting them in half lengthwise, then cut them into small pieces.

The second species is the small pepper called bird’s eye pepper (cili padi).  These peppers are much smaller, about one to two inches long, but very strong. Remove the stem and cut widthwise into thin rings.

Message: Adjust the spiciness according to your ability to tolerate the spiciness of the chili. I only use three Bird’s Eye peppers in this recipe, but many locals can handle a much spicier meal than I can.

b. Seasoning of Chinese garlic sauce

The spices consist of some typical flavors that are present in most Chinese foods. The ingredients are light soy sauce, oyster sauce, black vinegar, shaoxing wine, sugar, sesame oil and ground pepper. The combination is flexible and these elements can be replaced or omitted at will. However, there are some general rules you should follow:

  • Light soy sauce should always be part of the ingredients. Use a lighter soy sauce if you want to make it saltier, as this will also enhance the flavor.
  • The oyster sauce can be replaced by a vegetarian version with mushroom extract. The vegetarian version tastes and looks very similar to real oyster sauce (made from oyster extracts) and is therefore also marketed as vegetarian oyster sauce.
  • Vinegar is another important flavoring. Try to buy Chinese vinegar 镇江醋 made in China to experience the authentic taste.  Balsamic or wine vinegar can be used as a substitute. Add a little sugar to balance the acidity of the vinegar.
  • Shaoxing wine is optional.
  • If you want to make a Szechuan sauce, put a teaspoon of Szechuan pepper in the oil and fry it lightly for a minute; then remove the peppercorns and use the oil to continue the garlic sauce.  Also, adding two teaspoons of Szechuan chili oil to the garlic sauce will drastically change the overall flavor.

v. Preparation of Chinese garlic sauce

  • Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan.
  • If you want to season liver, add a teaspoon of liver pepper to the oil and fry lightly for a minute. Release the unique flavor of these peppercorns in an ouch. Remove the peppercorns and saute the garlic further. Otherwise, omit the Szechuan peppercorns and sauté the garlic over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Put the chopped ginger in the pan and fry the garlic.
  • Measure out the spices mentioned in the last section and mix them with the garlic and ginger.
  • When the mixture comes to a boil, add the chopped chilli and stir quickly. Let it boil for half a minute and then remove from the heat.

4. Assembly and maintenance

  • Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a serving dish.
  • Spoon some of the sauce over the eggplant and cover with the second layer. Spreading the sauce over the first layer before placing the second layer on top allows the eggplant to absorb the sauce and the chili and garlic to spread evenly over the pieces.
  • Add more layers of eggplant and drizzle the rest of the sauce on top.
  • To serve, garnish with chopped onions.

Other steamed eggplant recipes

You will probably also enjoy the following recipes if you prefer the steaming method:

This recipe for steamed pork with a salted egg is a lifesaver if you don’t want to spend too much time cooking. You can have it on the dining room table in half an hour. (Note: use chicken breast meat as a substitute if you don’t eat pork).

Braised chicken with mushrooms is a very popular homemade dish among Cantonese people. The sauce is the best part of the dish, because only with the sauce can you eat a bowl of steamed rice.

Steam the whole fish with a traditional Cantonese steaming sauce. You can use steamed fish fillets if you like them boneless.

Preparation time
10 minutes

Cooking time
20 minutes

Total time
30 minutes


Ingredients A (for aubergines)

Ingredients B (for garlic sauce)

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coffee. Szechuan pepper (optional)
  • 1 bulb of garlic ha ha ha ha ha ha
  • 2 large red chilis cut into short pieces
  • 1 large grey pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Vogelaugen-Chili in thin rings
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger

Ingredients C (seasonings for sauce)

Ingredients D (supplement)


  1. Remove both ends of the aubergine. Cut them into strips 4 to 6 inches long and half an inch wide. Soak it in a salt and vinegar solution for ten minutes. Turn off and deflate.
  2. Place the eggplant slices crosswise in the steamer.
  3. Steam for 10-12 minutes. Let it out.
  4. Fry the garlic and ginger with 2 tablespoons of oil until fragrant.
  5. Add the spices (C) to the pan.
  6. When it boils, add the chopped chilli, stir and cook for half a minute, then remove from the heat.
  7. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on a serving platter.
  8. Spoon some of the sauce over the eggplant, then put the second layer on top, followed by the sauce, so that the sauce is evenly distributed over all the eggplant pieces.
  9. To serve, garnish with a thinly sliced spoon.

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Performance information:



Power size:


The amount of the deposit :

Calories : 260Total fat: 15gSaturated fat: 1gTrans fat: 0gSaturated fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1657mgCarbons: 31gFibre: 7gSugar: 13gProtein: 5g

This data was reported and calculated by Nutritionix on March 26, 2021.

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