Eggplant with garlic sauce

Eggplant with garlic sauce – How to cook in 4 easy steps

Eggplant with garlic sauce (Yuxiang eggplant, 鱼香茄子) is a relatively easy and extremely delicious home-cooked dish.
However, it is very tricky to cook eggplant. Many people struggle to perfect it because of eggplant absorbs oil quickly and become soggy, at the same time it lost its appetizing purple hue after cooking.
This article will show you how to cook eggplant that is less oily, and how to retain its bright color.

Keep reading.

Eggplant with garlic sauce recipe

A delightful treat not to be missed

You will be rewarded with the tender and silky treat of eggplants, with attractive bright purple color, firm on the surface and spongy inside, glaze with the spicy meat sauce with the intense savory flavor. The combination of savory seasonings and eggplant delivers a delicate balance of flavor and texture.

Eggplant with garlic sauce is one Chinese dish that does not need the roaring heat found in restaurant kitchens.  It is an aesthetically pleasing combination of the purplish hue of eggplants, bright red of the chili and refreshing green of the scallion. The mere mention of this Sichuan food would conjure up a mental picture of spiciness, savory and numbness.

Try it out and you will not be disappointed.

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Yuxiang eggplant, 鱼香茄子

Simple ingredients with intense savory flavor

You can use any eggplants for this dish, but Japanese and Chinese eggplant is best for stir-frying. The skin is thin, does not contain mush seeds, with creamy flesh and virtually no bitter taste.

Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce is prepared with some essential ingredients- garlic, scallion, ginger, chili, vinegar, Shaoxing wine and oyster sauce.  The seasoning ingredients matched perfectly with the relatively plain flavor of eggplant.

The best result is by using minced pork with a quarter of fat, but you can use chicken meat as the substitution. Some recipe includes salted fish in the recipe, but it is an acquired taste so I would leave it out in this recipe.

There are two optional ingredient required – pickle chili and Sichuan peppercorn if you want to make it authentic. The taste will significantly change once you include either one of it in the recipe. For now, we just substitute the pickled chili with some dry red chili.

Doubanjiang (also called broad bean paste) is widely used in Sichuan cuisine. There is a version that is spicy which is labelled as spicy broad bean paste. You can use either the spicy of regular version depending on whether you prefer it to be spicier. I would suggest getting this sauce for the authenticity, although soybean paste is a close alternative if you are unable to get it.

Watch the videoRead on: Watch the video recipe at the end of this post

Two tricks to cook eggplant: how to make it less oily, and how to retain its bright color.

Trick # 1: How to make the eggplant absorbs less oil

You need to know the structure of eggplant to understand why eggplant absorbs oil much more than other vegetables.

Eggplant has a cellular structure which is soft, spongy and loaded with small air pockets. These air pockets are porous and quick to soak the oil during cooking. Therefore, the goal is to break the air pockets before cooking, hence reduce the amount of oil absorbed into the eggplant.

Naturally, the best way to solve the problem is to break down the air pockets before cooking.

Here is a useful method to do it. It is called salting. Some books call it sweating or purging. They all relate to the same process.

  • Cut the eggplant into the size and the shape that you want.
  • Add a tablespoon of salt to a pot of water.
  • Place the eggplant in it, and, set aside for half an hour.
  • Rinse away the salt, pat dry.

Why is this method works? Because salt draws out water from the cells of the eggplant due to osmosis. As a result, the air pockets collapse and fill with water. Since the air pockets are now full of water, there is no room for the oil from soaking into the eggplant anymore.

Chinese eggplant stir fry

Trick # 2: How to keep the eggplant from turning brown

Another challenge is to keep the purple hue of the skin and prevent the flesh from turning brown.
While this will not affect the flavor, this step is unquestionably making the eggplant more appealing.

Here is what you can do:

  • Keep the eggplant pieces in water immediately after cutting. This step will help to prevent browning of the flesh.
  • Deep-fried the eggplants in oil for 1-2 minutes before proceeding to stir-frying will retain the bright purplish color.

 

The four-step process of preparing eggplant with garlic sauce

Below is my four-step process to prepare this eggplant with garlic sauce.
Before I proceed, let me mentioned that the word eggplant, aubergine, and brinjal are referring to the same fruit.

Step one: Prepping the eggplant

This step is the most important one because eggplant needs special attention to get the best out of it.
I want to ensure my eggplant to be less oily. At the same time, I want it firm enough to withstand stir-frying in the wok.

Here are the steps:

  • Remove the stems, cut it into julienne of 6 cm length.
  • Mix it with a tablespoon of salt in some water. Place the eggplant pieces in it and soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the eggplant to wash away the excess salt.
  • Drain on a colander to remove the excess water.
  • Place the eggplants on a kitchen towel and pad dry.

 

Step two: Prepping the meat sauce

Yuxiang 鱼香 is the seasoning mixture of Chinese cooking widely used for cooking eggplants. It is originated from the Sichuan province but has long been spread to other regions in China and Asia. The term Yuxiang means “the fragrance of fish,” although the seasoning ingredients neither contain any fish or seafood.

Despite the obscure origin of the Chinese name of this dish, the sauce is a perfect match with eggplant due to its intense savory flavor.

Here are the steps to prepare meat sauce:

  • Minced the pork. It should consist of three-quarter of lean meat and one-quarter of fat. You can use chicken breast meat if you do not eat pork, but the texture will not be as smooth as pork.
  • Heat up some vegetable oil in the wok. Saute the chopped garlic, ginger, scallion and dry chili over low heat. Continue to saute until it becomes aromatic.
  • Add the minced meat. Loosen the pork with the wok spatula. Stir-fry until it is cooked. (Once the meat is cooked you can stir-fry over high heat for half a minute to get the aroma of stir frying or wok-hei.)
  • Add the remaining seasoning and keep stir-frying.
  • Add the cornflour slurry to thicken the sauce.
  • Finally, add the Shaoxing wine and vinegar.

Step three- Oil blanching the eggplant

Oil blanching means to deep frying the food briefly, then follow by stir-frying together with other ingredients to complete the cooking process.

As I mentioned earlier, oil blanching the eggplant is the secret to retain its bright purplish color. I suggest you purchase a deep fryer if you do not have one, or if you do deep frying occasionally, then get a deep-frying basket which is cheaper.

Here are the steps.

  • Heat up the oil to 350°F/175°C.
  • Place the eggplant pieces in the deep-frying basket and plunge into the oil. The oil may splatter a bit initially as the eggplant contains plenty of water. Be careful.
  • Deep fried for two minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove it from the basket, drain on the paper towel.

How to stir fry eggplant

Step four – Stir-frying and garnishing.

Not every Chinese recipe call for stir-frying over high heat. Eggplant with garlic sauce is one of such recipe.

Here are the steps.

  • Add the eggplant to the meat sauce in the wok.
  • Stir-fry over medium heat until the eggplant become tender.
  • Add the vinegar to the eggplant, mix well. Vinegar will lose its acidity when heated up, so it is best to add in the final step.
  • Dish up and garnish with chopped scallion.

So I have just shown you how to retain the bright color of eggplant, and how to make it less oily. Eggplant with garlic sauce is one dish that should not miss, easy to cook and the Chinese dish that will appeal to everyone

Watch the video and get the recipe below.  Now it is your turn to try it yourself.

Watch this video

A picture worth thousand words, a video worth thousand images.
This video will show you how to prepare Chinese style Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. (7.02 minutes)

(Note: If you encounter any audio / visual problem of viewing this video, you can view it from YouTube by clicking this link , which will open in a new tab)


The Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Eggplant with garlic sauce recipe
Eggplants with garlic sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
7 mins
Total Time
27 mins
 
Eggplant in spicy garlic sauce is a lightly spicy recipe and is best to serve with plain rice. Ingredients
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 746 kcal
Ingredients
  • 500 g eggplants
  • 150 g pork , (minced) 1/4 fat & 4/3 lean
Seasonings
Garnish
  • red chili , chopped
  • scallion , chopped
Instructions
  1. Remove the stems of the eggplant and cut into julienne of 4 cm length. Mix it with a tablespoon of salt and leave it for an hour. Wash away the salt thoroughly and squeeze the eggplants to remove excessive water.
  2. Stir fry the chopped onion and garlic with vegetable oil until fragrant. Add the minced meat and stir-fry until it is cooked.
  3. Deep fry the eggplants for 2 minutes. Keep aside.
  4. Add the seasonings, eggplants, and stir-fry until the eggplants are soft.
  5. Sprinkle with spring onion and serve.
Nutrition Facts
Eggplants with garlic sauce
Amount Per Serving (500 g)
Calories 746 Calories from Fat 333
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 57%
Cholesterol 110mg 37%
Sodium 217mg 9%
Total Carbohydrates 57g 19%
Sugars 18g
Protein 48g 96%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Eggplant with garlic sauce – How to cook in 4 easy steps was last modified: January 26th, 2018 by KP Kwan

7 Comments

  • KP Kwan

    Reply Reply January 27, 2018

    Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am glad to reply any questions and comments as soon as possible.

  • Marie Ramasamy

    Reply Reply February 1, 2018

    Thanks, Kwan. I’m back in Melbourne. Was in KL last week and had super coffee at Bakeroni with friends & family. I sometimes add lady’s fingers to the egg plant dish. Beautiful dish. Thank you!

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply February 1, 2018

      Hi Marie,
      Thanks for dropping by (at my cafe and blog).
      Lady’s fingers is a welcome addition to the dish, definitely is a good match.
      Do visit us when you are in KL next trip.

      KP Kwan

  • sinbe

    Reply Reply February 2, 2018

    Hi KP Kwan
    I tried this recipe last weekend , following your instructions to the letter. It was absolutely yummy! I’ve since checked out your other recipes
    which to my delight were easy and delicious. Your tips are excellent and practical! I’ve learnt so much more watching your videos in one day than reading all the recipe books I’ve bought. You are very generous in giving away your trade’s secrets. I’ll visit your cafe next time I’m in KL. Hope there are many selection of vege dishes. Hope you win the competition.
    cheers
    sinbe

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply February 2, 2018

      Hi Sinbe,

      I am delighted the Eggplant with Garlic Sauce recipe works. You give me the encouragement and there will make many more videos and posts to come.
      It will be great to see you when you visit KL.

      KP Kwan

  • Molly Terry

    Reply Reply February 23, 2018

    Hi KP Kwan
    Finally I get to try your method of stirfrying eggplant. I changed your recipe to suit our taste … ie deepfry eggplant, use sliced garlic and bean paste plus some water. It sure kept the eggplant soft-centered and didn’t go mushy! Thanks!

    I noticed your address in KL, pretty close to where I am staying for now, away from cold Canada!

    Thanks once again. Will be trying out your other recipes.

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply February 24, 2018

      Hi Molly,
      Thanks so much for trying out the recipe, and the improvisation.
      Deep frying ensures the eggplants remain bright green and salt water keeps it moist. These are the two important techniques. Other than that, by all means create something new.
      KP Kwan

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