This delicious vegan dish of garlicky eggplant and lentils makes a quick dinner full of protein, fiber, and flavour in 20 minutes or less! Chinese eggplant is less bitter than globe eggplants (more common in Canada). Plus it has a thinner skin and fewer seeds so I like cooking with it more. But if you don’t have those long Chinese eggplants available, any type of eggplant will do. Also known as aubergine (OH-BER-JEAN), I used to think eggplant was gross. But then, I had actually tasty eggplant and a love affair was born. Click here for the printable recipe.
Chinese Eggplant and Lentil Stir Fry Video Tutorial
We’re going be cooking at high heat and quite quickly so it’s important to get all your ingredients ready before taking them to the stove. When I was growing up, I was always the kid (out of three) that would help my dad in the kitchen. He would set me to work mincing garlic and ginger or washing vegetables. I liked to help but didn’t love smelling like garlic. Plus, I wasn’t so good at mincing ginger. I hate biting into chunks of ginger but would have no one to blame when I left in a tiny chunk and bit into one! When I discovered garlic presses in my late teens, my life was changed. I crush garlic AND ginger in that thing. No more garlicky fingers and no more sneaky ginger chunks!
How to make Chinese Eggplant and Lentil Stir Fry
Take all your prepped ingredients to the stove and heat a pan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, quickly add the garlic and ginger. The juice in the ginger will do some popping so stand back and be careful. After a couple seconds and a quick stir, add the chopped scallion and stir that around too. If you’re oil-free and want to water saute this, that’s fine. But as always when going from oil sautéing and water sautéing, you’ll be losing some of the oil-soluble flavours in garlic and ginger so your results may taste a bit flatter. When I water sauté, I usually make up for this with a bit extra seasoning at the end.
After a few seconds, add the celery. At this time, if you had other vegetables that take longer to cook, you can add them too. If you like carrots, some sliced carrots might be nice here. I have to admit…I don’t really love carrots.
Stir that around until the celery looks bright green, then add the eggplant and a cup of lentils. Stir that around some and add half a cup of vegetable broth. The broth will help the eggplant cook through while infusing it with flavour.
Let this cook, stirring every so often until the broth is mostly absorbed or evaporated. Takes maybe a minute.
Now add just about a teaspoon of rice vinegar. It’s much milder than regular white vinegar and will add just a touch of tang. Add one or two teaspoons of soy sauce or soy-free alternative. Just use your judgement on how salty you want this dish as all brands are a bit different, I find. To make this gluten-free, be sure to choose gluten-free soy sauce.
At this point, you can take a piece of eggplant, let it cool and taste to see if you need to cook for longer and gauge where you are on flavour. You could add a bit more broth, soy sauce, pepper, or anything else you like. This is your eggplant lentil stir fry and there are no rules!
When the eggplant is nice and soft, add the water and cornstarch mixture. Let that cook and start bubbling. The sauce will turn from milky looking to clear when it’s done. Only takes a few seconds. Then turn off the heat and do a final taste and adjust for salt and pepper if you like. And now we have a very brown looking dish. It’s deceptively full of incredible flavour though.
I’m having this on a little nest of brown rice noodles. Topping with cilantro, partly for looks and partly because I love cilantro. And of course, sriracha. Please let me know if you try this dish and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Or better yet, post a photo of it on Instagram and tag me @marystestkitchen! I love seeing your creations!
Printable recipe for Chinese Eggplant and Lentil Stir Fry – US
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 stalks of scallion, chopped
- 1/2 - 1 cup chopped celery (or your choice of crunchy veggies) (60g)
- 1 Chinese Eggplant (9oz / 250g)
- 1 cup cooked green lentils (or your choice) (150g)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- cooking oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- sriracha to taste
- cilantro for garnish
- Mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon or two of cold water or broth and set this cornstarch slurry aside.
- Heat a pan over high heat with a couple teaspoons of cooking oil (see notes for oil-free). When the oil is shimmering hot, quickly add the garlic and ginger. Stir quickly so garlic and ginger does not burn; you may also turn the heat down a little. After a couple seconds, add the chopped scallion and continue to stir. After a few more seconds, the scallions should turn bright green; add the celery and let it cook until it also turns bright; about a minute.
- Add the eggplant and cooked lentils. Stir, then add half a cup of vegetable broth. Cook a few minutes until the broth has been absorbed/evaporated and the eggplant is soft. Add additional broth if the eggplant needs more time to soften. Then, add the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning level. Add a quarter cup of broth. Give the cornstarch slurry a quick stir, then add it to the dish. Let cook for a couple minutes or until the sauce has thickened, then remove from heat.
- Serve over rice or rice noodles, garnish with chopped cilantro or more scallions and sriracha hot sauce as desired.
- For gluten-free cooking, make sure you choose gluten-free soy sauce or soy sauce alternative.
- For soy-free cooking, choose a soy-free soy sauce alternative or you can leave it out and increase the amount of salt to your preference.
- For oil-free cooking, use the water saute method instead of oil. The flavours from garlic and ginger may be muted by the water saute method so you may want to add some extra seasoning at the end of cooking.
- Feel free to add in more veggies and swap the lentils for your choice of beans or tofu.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 478mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 6g
Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.