Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Chinese Eggplant Stirfry with Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe

I’m not very creative when it comes to cooking eggplant, usually I poke a few holes with a fork and roast until soft. The poking is important – it prevents the eggplant from exploding in the oven. Go ahead, ask me how I know!

We grow both Chinese and Japanese eggplant in the garden, both of which are less-bitter than the standard fat Globe variety. I’ve heard cooks needing to “salt” the eggplant and let it sit to release its bitter compounds. Not needed for the Asian variety!

Chinese Eggplant Stirfry with Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe

The skin of Japanese and Chinese eggplant is much thinner as well.

While this is a Chinese stir-fry recipe, I used Japanese eggplant variety (my Chinese plant was towards the end of its life cycle and was only poppin’ out eggplant runts).

Other than just simple roasting, this is really the only other way I cook eggplant often – it’s a wonderful flavor party – chiles, garlic, soy sauce and a touch of black vinegar to balance the flavors out.

The translated Chinese name for this dish is “Fish-Fragrant Eggplant” which is so unfortunate. I’m sure it’s deterred many cooks from even trying the recipe. The reason it’s called this is because the dish originates from Sichuan province of China.

Sichuanese cooking has so many different descriptors for its 56 distinct cooking methods and 23 “official” Sichuanese flavoring combinations. The “Fish-Flavored” refers to the combination: salty+sweet+sour+spicy+garlic+ginger+green onion. Don’t worry – the sauce doesn’t taste fishy, nor the does the recipe contain any fish at all.  It’s a sauce that goes GREAT with many Sichuan fish dishes – thus the funny translated name.

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If you like Sichuanese cooking, pick up “Land of Plenty: Authentic Sichuan Recipes Personally Gathered in the Chinese Province of Sichuan” cookbook by Fushsia Dunlop. Fushsia is a celebrated cookbook author specializing in Chinese cookery. She’s lived in Sichuan and was the first foreigner to study full-time at the province’s famous cooking school.

I’ve been cooking this dish since my college days – my recipe doesn’t include Sichuanese Chili Bean Paste like Fushsia’s recipe – it’s not a common ingredient in standard supermarkets and I have trouble finding the bean paste even today outside of Asian supermarkets.

Chinese Eggplant Stirfry with Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe

Here are a couple other tips:

1. If you can find Chinese bean paste – add 1 tablespoon to the stir-fry and cut the soy sauce to just 1 teaspoon.

2. The original Chinese recipe uses Chinese Black Vinegar – which is very similar to young balsamic vinegar. You can use either. The balsamic vinegar should be tart, not sweet – so don’t use the expensive super-aged super-thick sweet stuff (save that for your strawberries).

3. If you can’t find Chinese or Japanese eggplants, just use globe eggplant! Cut in similar sized strips. Baby globe eggplant is really good too. No need to salt. Just rinse, cut into thin wedges.

Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe Video

Chinese Eggplant Stirfry with Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe



Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes
chinese eggplant stirfry with spicy garlic sauce recipe-0504


2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
3 small eggplants cut into long strips
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 red chile pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar


In a wok or saucepan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat wok. When wok is hot, add eggplant in a single layer. Cook 1 minute and flip over each piece so they cook evenly. Cook another 2-3 minutes, flipping occasionally.

Push eggplant aside in wok and add 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Add garlic, red chile peppers, ginger and green onion. Stir these aromatics until they become fragrant. Combine aromatics with eggplant and stir fry for one minute. Add soy sauce, black vinegar and sugar and stir to combine all. Serve immediately.

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Comments 56

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  3. Tom mclaughlin

    Yu Shang chetzu is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. I tried the recipe and found that the eggplants do not get soft as in a restaurant. So I asked the chef. He said he deep fries the eggplant.

    1. Bella

      Instead of deep frying, you can steam the eggplants separately first to your desired level of softness. Much healthier and is really quick and effective.Then add to stirfryed ingredients

      1. tamsyn

        I fry the eggplants with a half cup water added and then put a lid on for my Thai style basil/eggplant. Stops eggplants soaking up too much oil as they’re basically being braised.

  4. Caroline

    Hm I love this dish! Eggplants are one of my favorite vegetables! It’s interesting to read about the bitterness of globe eggplants..can they really be bitter in America? I buy regular globe eggplants all the time here in Switzerland and never had a single one that was bitter. Could it be because they let them grow to big in the States? (I was always amazed at the huge sizes of some veggies and fruits over there!). Anyway I need to make this dish soon again, it tastes as delicious as it looks!

  5. Beth B

    I didn’t grow up eating eggplant (and lots of other delicious veggies) and am so happy to find this recipe. Sounds delicious. Also, the video is so very helpful. Lastly, I love that you include a picture in the printed recipe. It reminds me why I printed a recipe when I see the photo.

  6. Miche

    I love cooking with Chinese and Japanese eggplants! Yuu xiang chie zi is one of my favorite dishes (although I’ve never made it at home. Now I have to.) Typically, I find they don’t need salting, but I had a bad experience once with some eggplants that turned out very bitter. Since then, I always salt, but now I’m wondering if I’m paranoid…

  7. Jeanne K

    Ooh, one of my favorite dishes (and one my teenage daughter loves, too)! I usually use brown sugar and a splash of oyster sauce in my version (the remaining ingredients are the same, though). I can’t wait to try your recipe–it looks delicious.

  8. Kathleen McCalla

    looks amazing and will try…but I am interested in the garlic do-hickey!!! Love your site…btw…I am Jeremiah’s Aunt Kathie! Hope to meet ou one day.

  9. Denny

    I enjoy your recipes Jaden, I have sent this one to several person. Your cooking is easy and fast it works well with my lifestyle. Continue to do a great job 🙂

  10. Vi

    I just made this and it turned out fantastic! Love your tasty, easy, fast recipes. So glad I found your blog!

  11. Jeanine

    I did a random search on the internet for Chinese eggplant recipes, found yours, fixed it, and OOOOH! YUMMY! Thank you so much. I did have bean paste I had luckily bought on a whim the week before! Yay! Easy, delicious, and fast. I made mine over rice and it was a great simple dinner. Thank you again!

  12. meera bali

    This is one of my favorite dishes and it tastes amazing, I have never made it at home but will try now with this recipe. I had it for the first time at a restaurant in San Jose California called Lock chun. Wow!!! Last I had it at a Chinese restaurant in Atlanta Georgia, I believe if I can get the sauce right I can make it at home. I won’t eat most eggplant dishes, this one I can eat without rice or anything. I m Indian and we eat loads of eggplant in different preparations, this Chinese one is amazing

  13. Alicia

    For those people enquiring about the bitterness or otherwise of eggplant (aubergine, in Europe). Fresh eggplant of any variety should not be bitter, particularly modern strains that we will buy in the shops. If your eggplant is old, then it will be bitter, that’s why someone said they found a bitter one once. To choose a fresh eggplant, always look for the “leaves” where the stem joins the plant. This green bit should be green, not brown, not greyish and not bruised. The eggplant should look plump, not shrivelled, and the freshest eggplants will look shiny and bursting with life. There shouldn’t be discoloured spots.

    Finally, to figure out if you need to salt your eggplants (frankly, in my opinion, if they need salting I’m going to bin it anyway as it’s not fresh), cut a little sliver and eat it raw. If it’s bitter you will taste it immediately. If it’s fresh it will taste sweet and fresh.

    Oh, and the dark vinegar required for this recipe is Xinjiang or Chinkiang vinegar, in case you can find it. It has a distinct flavour.

    Good luck!

  14. Natalie Luffer

    Wow Jaden, quite a while since I saw a post. This dish is just what I have been searching for and I am in love with the recipe and the results.

    So soft and tender the only problem: I can’t stop eating it and then there is none for the family…..

  15. SH

    I’ve made this recipe last night & it was great. It smalled like restaurant take out food. a must try!

  16. Mary Blackledge Corroo

    Hi Jaden! I made this eggplant dish last night. It was my first time cooking with black vinegar and black bean paste. The dish turned out beautifully. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the great recipe and post. I look forward to trying more of your recipes. I will check out your quilting site too since I quilt also. Have a great day. 🙂

  17. Susan R

    Running out for black vinegar never heard of it but i m sure the chinese grocery store will carry it. Alicia thanks for the tip regarding black vinegar Xinjiang or Chinkiang vinegar

  18. Brenda K

    Wow, super! I just jumped on the old ‘net to look for recipes for Chinese eggplant since my Ping Tung plant is popping them out like crazy now, and landed right on this one 🙂 It looks so beautiful too — can’t wait to try it! I have lots of chiles/peppers but no spring onions now, so will substitute chives. Your garlic-ginger-saute’d bok choi recipe instantly became my favourite way to prepare that vegetable when I first found it a couple years ago. Thank you!

  19. Kate

    I don’t have a red chili pepper but want to make this tonight. What would be a good substitute? I do have a jalapeño and a Hungarian hot wax pepper and a sweet red pepper.

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  22. Jessica

    Awesome! I threw in what I had in the fridge, lots of substitutions and I maybe made it more Mexican, lol. I definitely needed to cut my eggplant thinner. My slices were pretty big 🙂

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  25. Julia

    Hi Jaden,
    I tried it this morning and it was good. Besides I love eggplants. And I used the green ones, here in Indonesia, the green ones are more sweeter, for my taste.
    We used to cook the eggplants with chili ( lots of them ) onion, garlic, salt , stir fry them and combine with the fried eggplants. So your recipe is new to me and I must say it is delicious.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Post
  26. Lee Cooper

    My wife is a veggie but I detest the things – we’re now living in Egypt and baby aubergines are everywhere (white and purple).

    I cooked some fish for her tonight and as a side decided to cook some of the aubergines that we had … I replaced the black vinegar with malt vinegar, but this still turned out lovely!

    Thank you.

  27. Phil H

    I made this tonight – wow! So good! And so easy. It was my first experience with Chinese eggplant , but it won’t be the last. I also added broccoli florets to the stir fry and that worked well. This recipe is a keeper.

    1. Post
  28. Linda

    What would side dish would go along with this eggplant recipe. I am cooking this eggplant recipe tonight it looks like it will be good. Thanks

    1. Post
  29. Pradeep

    I tried this today and it was out of the world! I live in Singapore but ironically the first time I tried this dish was in London! And I loved it and today decided to cook it at home and found your site. I paired this with a simple egg fried rice and the result was divine! Thanks for the recipe! It rocks!

  30. Mausie S

    I have not tried any other cooking for eggplant but just Filipino style, fried, steamed and or sauté wants to try yours, saw a jar of pepper bean paste but ignored it, will buy it then tomorrow, while on sale !

  31. Kat

    This recipe looks great! I plan on trying it tonight. Do you think I could use chili paste instead of chopped chili?

  32. ashwin sura

    Super east dish. Sweet and hot, garlic and ginger infused fragrant and delicious. Very little prep time and cooking time.
    Love it

    1. Post
  33. Alison

    Thanks for the recipe – I’ll give it a whirl. I nearly gave up on this page though – you have so many ads coming in from so many (slow) servers that it took over 5 minutes to load. You’re going to lose a lot of readers that way.

  34. Cleone

    Great recipe! I omitted the chili and used balsamic vinegar instead of black vinegar. Still tasted great!

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