01 of 09
Braised Eggplant in Garlic Sauce - a Popular Szechuan Dish
A popular feature at Szechuan restaurants, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce consists of chunks of eggplant and ground pork that are braised in a garlicky sauce. This dish gets its heat from chili garlic sauce, available at Asian/Chinese markets. The eggplant is Chinese eggplant, a long, thin eggplant that is usually purple in color and often has a white streak.
The only tricky part of making Eggplant in Garlic Sauce comes when it's time to cook the eggplant. If you've ever fried eggplant, you'll know it loves to soak up oil! To get around this problem, in this recipe the eggplant is partially cooked in boiling water before being added to the pork and seasonings in the wok. However, I’ve included instructions for stir-frying the eggplant if you want to prepare it in a more traditional way.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make Braised Eggplant in Garlic Sauce:
Continue to 2 of 9 below.
- 2 medium Chinese eggplant (about 10 to 11 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (minced)
- 1 green onion (spring onion, scallion) white and green parts, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons/4 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon/4 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar (traditionally black rice vinegar, or you can use balsamic vinegar or Chinese red rice vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ground pork (no more than 1/4 cup)
- pinch of black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil for stir-frying
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
02 of 09
Cutting the Eggplant, Step 1
Cut the ends off the eggplant. Cut the eggplant crosswise in half. Cut each half lengthwise into quarters.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Cutting the Eggplant - Step 2
1. Line up the eggplant slices from left to right and cut diagonally into pieces approximately 3/4-inch thick.
2. Cook the eggplant in boiling water for 1 minute (start timing from the time the water returns to a boil). Drain the eggplant on paper towels. Be sure the eggplant is drained thoroughly.
Alternate cooking methods: Instead of boiling the eggplant, you can stir-fry it before combining it with the pork and other ingredients. To stir-fry the eggplant, heat the wok and add 3 tablespoons oil. When the oil is very hot, add the eggplant slices. Stir-fry the eggplant for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to brown. Be sure to keep stirring the eggplant so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Press down on the eggplant to remove excess oil. Remove and drain on paper towels.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Prepare the Aromatics
Finely mince the garlic and ginger. Finely chop the green onion.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Prepare the Sauce and Ground Pork
1. In a small bowl, combine the dark and light soy sauces, vinegar, rice wine or dry sherry, sugar and chicken broth. Set aside.
2. In another small bowl, use your fingers to mix the black pepper and cornstarch into the ground pork. (The black pepper adds extra flavor and a small amount of cornstarch helps keep the ground pork from sticking to the pan).Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
Stir-fry the Pork and Seasonings
1. Heat the wok on medium-high and add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and green onion. Stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add the ground pork. Stir in the chili garlic sauce.
2. Stir-fry until the pork turns white and is nearly cooked (about 1 minute), using a spatula to break it into small pieces.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
Add the Eggplant and Sauce
1. Add the eggplant into the pan. Stir for a minute to mix everything together. Give the sauce a quick re-stir and swirl it into the pan, stirring.
2. Turn down the heat to low-medium (about 4 on the dial), cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the eggplant is tender.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Thicken the Sauce
Give the cornstarch and water mixture a quick re-stir and add it in the middle of the pan, stirring quickly to thicken. Mix the sauce with the other ingredients and serve hot.
Note: This last step is optional. If you want, instead of adding the cornstarch slurry, you can finish off the dish by removing it from the heat and stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of Asian sesame oil.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
This spicy dish goes very nicely with plain cooked brown rice or white rice. Feel free to enhance the presentation by garnishing the dish with chopped chives, a few sprigs of cilantro or parsley, or toasted sesame seeds.