Chinese eggplant recipe is popular as Sichuan eggplant or Szechuan eggplant. This is a quick vegan recipe with Asian flavors.
This spicy Chinese eggplant with Sichuan peppers is too delicious yet one of the quickest dish to add for your dinner or lunch menu. This is vegan and gluten-free also. This is my go-to vegan recipe for lazy days or nights. Check out my other lazy vegan recipes here.
This eggplant recipe is super easy and doesn't require any planning or preparation. Just few pantry staples and in just 10 minutes (or lesser time) the dish is ready to serve.
In this eggplant recipe, the eggplants (preferably Chinese eggplants) are cooked in a spicy Sichuan sauce with strong flavor of Szechuan peppercorns or Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, along with other Asian flavored sauces. Alternatively you can make this Chinese eggplant recipe in chili garlic sauce as well.
What is Szechuan Peppercorn?
Szechuan peppercorn also popular as Sichuan peppercorns are a kind of fragrant spice produced from the husks of seeds of two species of prickly ash shrub xanthoxylum. Sichuan peppercorns are used whole or ground. This is one of the main ingredients in many recipes of Sichuan cuisine (Chinese). However, Sichuan pepper is not as hot as black peppers but it has a mouth tingling taste enhances the flavor.
Fact - Sichuan peppercorns are not really peppercorns since they don't belong to the same family as black peppers. If you taste a Sichuan peppercorn, first it tastes mildly bitter followed by numbing heat and then tangy. So it absolutely enhances the flavor in the dish. (Source)
Substitute for Szechuan peppercorns -
Here you can add black peppers substituting the Szechuan peppercorns but reduce the quantity of black peppers since it's more spicy than Sichuan peppers.
Which eggplant to use for this Sichuan Chinese eggplant?
Best is to use the long Chinese eggplants. If you don't have that you can also use the large fatty eggplants since that also has lesser seeds. More seeds makes the eggplant taste bitter. Learn more about taste of eggplants here.
When I make this Chinese eggplant with large eggplants, I cut it in a way that I don't use the spongy center part. Make pieces with skin only while prepping them.
Why I love this Chinese eggplant?
- It's flavorful, delicious
- Asian flavors
- quick dish
- no preparation required
- easy vegan recipe
- quick vegan dinner
- gluten free (with tamari)
What is Chinese eggplant?
This stir-fry eggplant recipe is made with Chinese eggplants cooked with Asian flavored sauce. Chinese eggplants are a specific type of eggplant with specific features. These are slim and long in looks unlike the bulbous fatty eggplants or wester eggplants. Chinese eggplants have thinner skin and less seeds too. Lesser seeds make the eggplant less bitter. So this makes the best type of eggplant for this Chinese eggplant recipe. These are also same as Japanese eggplants.
How to make Szechuan Eggplant or Chinese Eggplant?
This is an easy recipe that is vegan and gluten free as well. With only 4 ingredients and a sauce, this dish tastes awesome. Here I have added Sichuan peppers to my eggplant but you can also make the same dish with stir-fry sauce or chili garlic sauce.
**Note - Detailed measurements are mentioned in the recipe card.
1 - Ingredients for sauce
Soy sauce, hot sauce or chili flakes, brown sugar, vinegar, Shaoxing cooking wine (optional), Szechuan peppers (or black peppers), black bean sauce, corn starch, water
You can also use my Chinese garlic sauce + Szechuan peppers as an alternative sauce. You can also substitute the Szechuan pepper with regular peppers.
2 - Other Ingredients
Other ingredients are Chinese eggplants, garlic, ginger, dry red chilies, green onions and toasted sesame seeds, olive oil, corn starch
Step - 1 - Prepare the sauce
On a pan add the Sichuan peppers and roast for 3 - 4 minutes on low flame. Remove from the pan and crush it using a mortar and pastel. Add the peppers to the other ingredients. Prepare sauce my adding sauces in a mixing bowl.
You can also substitute the Sichuan peppers with regular black peppers if not available to you. But Sichuan peppers add really nice flavor and aroma to the sauce.
Step 2- Prepare the eggplants
Cut the eggplant and add salt to it. Then let it sit for sometimes. This will help in removing the bitterness if any. It will also release some water from the eggplant. Remove from water and place in a clean bowl. Now add a tbsp of cornstarch and mix. This will give the eggplant a firmness without getting soggy while frying.
Step - 3 - Fry the eggplants
You can deep fry the eggplants here. But I prefer pan frying the eggplants for my Chinese eggplant recipe. Heat oil in a wok or skillet. Place the eggplants and nicely cook all sides on medium flame. Then remove from pan and place on a paper napkin.
Step 4 - Prepare the gravy
In a wok heat oil. Once oil is hot add chopped garlic, ginger, whole dry red chili and sauté for 2 minutes till garlic starts to change color. Add some chopped scallions.
Now pour the sauce into the wok or pan. Bring it to a boil for a minute and then add the fried eggplants. Give them a gentle stir to mix all the elements nicely. Let it simmer for 1 - 2 minutes on medium high flame.
Garnish with some freshly chopped scallions or onion greens and some roasted sesame seeds on top. Chinese eggplant is ready.
You can make this Chinese eggplant stir-fry or leave a little sauce in it as per your choice. Add lesser water to the sauce if you are making stir-fried eggplant. While serving with rice, I leave a little sauce along with my eggplants as I like it that way and it's whole meal. But if making this eggplant for a side dish, I make it stir-fry type.
Tips to make perfect Chinese Eggplant-
#1 - Use Chinese/ Japanese eggplants (the slim long eggplants). We need pieces where one side has skin attached. Else it will be soggy and mushy. The eggplant should be tender, thin (not thick and fleshy) for best option.
#2 - If taking large fatty western eggplants, discard the central fleshy portion of the eggplant which tend to have seeds also.
#3 - Salting is needed to release excess moisture. And it will soak up lesser oil. Also if the eggplant has more seeds, it helps in removing bitterness from it.
#4 - Coat with corn starch helps retaining the firm structure of the eggplant pieces. You can skip the cornstarch also.
#5 - You can also steam the eggplants in place of deep frying or pan frying. Place the pieces (with skin side down and body towards up since it's softer than the skin) in a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes. Salting and corn starch is not required if steaming the eggplants.
#6 - To make this gluten-free use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.
Chinese Eggplant Recipe (Szechuan Eggplant)
- Wok/ skillet
- 14 oz Chinese eggplant
- 5 - 7 pods garlic minced
- 1/2 inch ginger minced
- 3 - 4 dry red chili
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 - 4 green onion stalks
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp red chilli flakes
Prepare the sauce
- In a pan roast Szechuan peppers for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Transfer to a clean plate and grind coarse using a mortar and pastel.
- In a clean mixing bowl, add all ingredients mentioned above in ingredients list under Szechuan sauce.
Prepare the eggplants
- Wash, clean and remove crown of the eggplants.
- Slice the eggplants in equal sizes (approximately).
- Sprinkle salt and let it sit for a while.
- Remove the pieces to a clean bowl.
- Sprinkle some corn starch and mix gently.
- Heat oil in a pan or skillet.
- Place the eggplants and cook on medium flame till all sides are cooked well and charred.
- Remove once done and place on a kitchen towel.
Cook the Szechuan garlic sauce
- In the same pan, add some more oil if required.
- Sauté dry chilies, ginger and garlic till garlic starts to change color.
- Then add prepared sauce and bring it to a boil.
- When it starts to boil, add fried eggplants.
- Mix them nicely and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes.
- Add green onions and turn off heat.
- Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and serve hot.