Calling all you Eggplant lovers out there! Here’s a flavor bomb you won’t want to miss – Spicy Chinese Eggplant with Szechuan Sauce -a tasty, easy vegan dinner recipe you can serve over rice, cauliflower rice, rice noodles, black rice or even quinoa!
I picked up some eggplant at the farmers market the other day thinking I would make this baked Ratatoullie Recipe, but then somehow I got a hankering for something spicier. Oops, change of plans!
I remembered a dish we had in Shanghai a few years back, and dug up my old recipe notes. There it was in BOLD – Spicy Chinese Eggplant with Szechuan Sauce with a huge star and circle around it – a reminder to share it with you!
So here it is, and boy is this tasty! I can’t wait for you to give it a go.
Another vegan dinner recipe for you to try out!
Why this Chinese Eggplant works!
- eggplant is crispy, not soggy
- uses the minimum amount of oil
- amazing flavor- spicy, garlicky, subtly sweet
- it is vegan!
- it’s easy!
It starts with cutting the eggplant into bite-sized pieces. Cut at a diagonal so each piece is like a triangle, about an inch thick at its thickest end.
Try to get get them roughly the same size for even cooking. Cut a wedge then turn the eggplant, cut again and turn.
- This works best with Japanese eggplant ( long and skinny) versus globe eggplant.
Once all the eggplant are cut ( 4 x 10-inch eggplants), place in a bowl of salted water for 20 minutes.
2. Salting the eggplant helps the eggplant soak up less oil when stir-frying.
Cover with a plate so the eggplant is submerged. Let sit 20 mins.
3. Mise en place ( get things prepped and ready)
While the eggplant soaks, prep the garlic, ginger and Szechuan sauce and place them by the stove.
Drain the eggplant ( don’t rinse) then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Then coat in cornstarch. This helps the eggplant get crispy.
4. Sear the eggplant in an extra-large flat skillet, versus a round wok. The eggplant need a little time to cook through and get each side brown. This is difficult to do in a wok.
Then begin searing each side.
Sear them in two batches, and this is where you will need a little patience. Each batch will take about 10 minutes, and require to turn the eggplant over one by one to get each side golden.
If you are in a hurry you can use two skillets, but it can be a lot to manage.
So when the eggplant are deeply golden, even slightly charred, set them aside.
Stir fry the onion and garlic for a quick minute then add the chilies. Make sure to have your fan on!
Keep in mind, you never eat these chilies– they just give the oil a little spicy heat, permeating the whole dish.
Then pour in the Szechuan sauce you’ve already prepped.
Cook it for 20 seconds then add the Eggplant back into the skillet, gently coating.
This will smell amazing.
Sometimes I’ll even top it with this Peanut Chili Crunch which adds great texture and flavor. Always nice to have on hand ( my husband looooooves this stuff!).
What I love about this Chinese Eggplant recipe is the eggplant is deliciously caramelized with crispy charred edges – the best texture!
Worth every minute you spend browning those sides.
And YES it is quite addicting!
Make this Chinese Eggplant soon, while eggplants are still available at your farmers market!
And as always, if you make this, please rate and comment below. VERY Appreciated!!!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 25
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Main, vegan
- Method: stovetop, stir-fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 1/2 lbs Japanese Eggplant (about 4 x 10 inch eggplants)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- bowl of water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2–4 tablespoons peanut oil ( or wok oil)
- 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 2 teaspoons ginger, finely minced
- 5–10 dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns ( or sub regular peppercorns)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon garlic chili paste ( or sub 1 teaspoon chili flakes)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (or mirin)
- 3 tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or alternative
- 1/2 teaspoon five spice
Garnish with scallions and roasted peanuts or this Peanut Chili crunch
- Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch thick half-moons or into bite-sized pieces ( see photos). Place in a big bowl covered with water and stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Cover with a plate and let stand 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop the garlic and ginger and make the Szechuan Sauce.
- To make the Szechuan Sauce: Toast the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Crush. Place these along with the remaining ingredients ( soy, chili paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sugar, and five spice) in a small bowl and whisk. Set by the stove.
- Drain the eggplant and pat dry with a towel. Toss with the corn starch.
- Working in 2 batches, heat 1 -2 tablespoons oil in an extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add half the eggplant spreading them out. You want to get both sides nice and golden, and the insides cooked through -so take your time here and dont rush this step. Let one side brown then turn them over using tongs. This will take about 10 minutes for each batch. ( If in a hurry sometimes I’ll use 2 pans.) Set the eggplant aside.
- Add 1 more tablespoon oil to the skillet, and over medium heat, add the garlic and ginger, stirring for 2 minutes. Turn the fan on, add the dried chilis and stir one minute. Pour the Szechuan sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer for 20 seconds. Add the eggplant back into the skillet, tossing gently for about 1 minute. If it seems dry add a tablespoon of water to loosen.
- Place in a serving dish and top with scallions and optional peanuts.
- Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, black rice or rice noodles.
Be patient browning each side of the eggplant. This will take a little time but reward you greatly.
I’ve found that the flat surface of a skillet, verses using a wok is much easier to use to get those sides golden.
Feel free to sub cashews for the peanuts, of leave off completely.
Keywords: Szechuan eggplant, stir fry eggplant, Chinese eggplant, stir fried eggplant, Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce