Crispy around the edges and buttery smooth on the inside, Chinese Deep Fried Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce is a beautifully rich dish that’s perfect on steamed rice. The restaurant-style recipe is made vegan with vegetarian mushroom sauce instead of oyster sauce which makes it even more delicious. This is a dish for eggplant lovers but also for those who aren’t quite sure about eggplant (AKA aubergine). I mean, deep-frying makes everything taste better. Right?
Video tutorial for Deep Fried Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce
When you make this dish, try to get Chinese eggplants. They are long and skinny compared to the globe eggplants that are more common in Western cooking. They have thinner skins and are less bitter; true for eggplants, not for humans!
Cut them into 2 to 3″ long pieces, about 1/2″ thick. Then immediately submerge them in cold, salted water. You can use a small bowl or plate to weigh down the floaty pieces. This will prevent them from turning brown. Browning doesn’t change the taste, but it doesn’t look very nice. For best results, let them soak for 20 minutes. You can even do this step ahead of time; leave them in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, drain the eggplant very well but there’s no need to pat dry.
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The bit of moisture on the surface of the eggplant will help with the next step: coating in a combination of cornstarch, salt, and white pepper. Just mix with your hands so everything gets coated evenly.
You’ll also want to get all the other ingredients ready before going to the stove. Two ingredients that you might need to get from an Asian speciality store or online are Vegetarian Mushroom Sauce and Black Bean Garlic Sauce. The Vegetarian Mushroom Sauce is made to replace oyster sauce in recipes. It’s very salty and savoury and I think it tastes even better than oyster sauce. Black Bean Garlic sauce is made with fermented black beans and has a strong flavour. Don’t use too much or your dish will be bitter. But used in just the right amounts and balanced with other seasonings, it’s absolutely wonderful. If you can only find Black Bean Sauce without garlic, that’s okay too. You can simply add a clove or two of extra garlic in this spicy garlic eggplant dish.
When you’re ready to start deep frying, heat a few inches of oil in a pot with high sides and a heavy base. A thick base helps the oil heat evenly and high sides prevent oil from bubbling over. For best results, use a thermometer to ensure the oil gets up to 365¯F. You want to make sure the oil stays around the same temperature throughout the cooking process. Fry the eggplant in small batches to maintain the high temperature, turning the pieces after a minute so they cook evenly. Fry each batch for about 3 minutes or until the exterior is just turning a little golden. Drain the eggplant on a paper towel-lined rack.
After the eggplant is all fried, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add black bean sauce and garlic and stir-fry quickly until fragrant; about 30 seconds to a minute.
Add scallions and red chillies; stir-fry about 30 seconds until the scallions turn bright. Then add sugar, soy sauce, and vegetarian mushroom sauce. Give the cornstarch slurry a mix, then add it to the pan as well, stirring quickly. Turn off the heat as the sauce thickens.
Add the eggplant and fold gently with a spatula to distribute the sauce. Finally, garnish with chopped scallions and/or cilantro and you’re ready to knock some socks off! I really hope you give this recipe a try. If you do, please let me know how it went. Thanks for reading!
More vegan Chinese restaurant-style recipes:
Printable recipe for Deep Fried Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce Recipe
This dish is medium-hot. Spicy but not overly so, especially when served with plain rice for balance. Adjust the amount of hot chilies to your preference.
For a low-fat version of this dish, make delicious spicy garlic steamed eggplant dish. Simply salt the cut eggplant and steam it instead of frying.
Click here for the video tutorial.
- 2 large Chinese Eggplants (500g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- oil for deep frying
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 cup cold vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- chopped scallion
- chopped cilantro
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Cut the eggplant into lengths about 2" long and 1/2" thick. Immediately submerge pieces in the salted water in order to prevent the eggplant from browning. You can use a bowl or small plate to weigh the eggplant down.For best results, let it soak for 20 minutes before draining well. You can also do this ahead of time, letting it soak in the fridge for up to two days. Make sure the eggplant is well drained before the next step.
- In a large bowl, mix the cornstarch coating ingredients. Add the eggplant and mix with your hands so eggplant pieces are completely coated.
- Prepare your stir-fry ingredients. Mix the cornstarch slurry and set aside. Once your eggplant is fried, you'll want to immediately start the stir-fry so be ready.
- Fill a heavy bottomed pot with 3" - 4" with oil. Heat to 365°F; ensure the oil is hot enough by using a thermometer. Fry the eggplant in small batches to maintain the high temperature, turning the pieces after a minute so they cook evenly. Fry each batch about 3 minutes or until the exterior is just turning a little golden. Drain the eggplant on a paper towel-lined rack.
- After the eggplant is all fried, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add black bean sauce and garlic. Stir-fry for 1 minute; don't let the garlic burn.
- Add scallions and red chillies; stir-fry about 30 seconds until the scallions turn bright. Add sugar, soy sauce, and vegetarian mushroom sauce. Give the cornstarch slurry a mix, then add it to the pan as well, stirring quickly. Turn off the heat as the sauce thickens.
- Add the eggplant and fold gently with a spatula to distribute the sauce. Garnish with chopped scallions and/or cilantro and enjoy!
- For deep-frying, choose a neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point such as peanut oil or canola.
- Regular soy sauce is normally light soy sauce. It's saltier and not as darkly coloured as the more flavourful dark soy sauce.