This is be far my favourite way to eat eggplant. It’s a Chinese dish that just happens to be vegan and it’s so mouthwateringly delicious. Deep fried and coated in an umami and slightly sweet sauce with plenty of garlicky flavour… Saucy and crispy on the outside, melty and hot on the inside! So many people dislike eggplant but I’m convinced they’re just not preparing it right because this meaty vegetable is so enjoyable, especially when done right! This sticky garlic eggplant is best eaten with hot jasmine rice.
PICKING AN EGGPLANT
Go for a shiny smooth looking eggplant that isn’t too dark. When choosing an eggplant, feel for one that is mostly firm but not hard. It should have a little bit of give, like a ripe tomato. For this recipe you can use skinny or chunky eggplant – it really doesn’t matter.
DEEP FRYING: DO I HAVE TO?
Fermented Bean Curd: is an umami BOMB that brings so much flavour to asian cooking. They’re essentially little fermented cubes of tofu which pack a punch, with the texture almost of cream cheese. It’s a shelf-stable product that you can find at asian supermarkets. It’s often a secret ingredient in stir-fries and will take your cooking to the next level! Be aware that it comes in plain, spicy, red and stinky varieties. I like the ones which have chilli and sesame oil.
Black Bean Garlic Sauce: a popular Chinese stir-fry sauce -my favourite brand is Lee Kum Kee.
Vegetarian Oyster Sauce: so many people use Vegetarian oyster sauce instead of real oyster sauce because it really does taste better! Made with mushroom, this is an umami sauce that is thick and slightly sweet that can be used in many different dishes. My favourite brand is the Wan Ja Shan brand although Lee Kum Kee make a pretty good one too. In Australia the LKK one is also called Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce and has a green label – I’ve seen it at Woolworths.
Sticky Garlic Eggplant 红烧茄子
Sticky Garlic Eggplant 红烧茄子
- 500 g Eggplant
- 1/4 cup Cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
Black Bean Garlic Sauce
- 1 cube Fermented Bean Curd
- 5 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 stalks Spring Onion diced
- 1 tsp Black Bean and Garlic Sauce I recommend Lee Kum Kee brand
- 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster Sauce I recommend Wan Ja Shan brand
- 1/2 tbsp Sugar
- Fresh Chillil optional
- Spring Onions optional
- Toasted Sesame optional
- Fried Crispy Shallots optional
Preparing The Eggplant
- Chop eggplant into large pieces. Soak eggplant in water with a good pinch of salt for at least 30 minutes, try to submerge the pieces by using a heavy plate.
- After 30 mins, pat dry.
- In a separate large bowl, mix cornflour, salt, white and black pepper.
- Toss the eggplant pieecs in cornflour mixture so every piece is coated generously on all sides with the flour mix.
Deep Frying Eggplant
- Heat a few inches of frying oil in a deep pot or wok.
- Use a cooking thermometer and heat oil until 180-190ºC. (Alternatively you can test if the oil is hot enough by dipping in put a wooden chopstick to the bottom of your oil. If lots of bubbles rise rapidly out of the tip of the chopstick, you're ready to fry.)
- Fry eggplant pieces in batches for about 3-4 minutes, turning so that the pieces cook evenly. I would suggest frying in small batches of 5-7 pieces if you have a small pot, or 8-10 pieces if you have a large wok, so that the oil doesn’t lose too much heat.
- Drain on paper towel and set aside.
- Mix black bean sauce, oyster sauce and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan on medium heat. Cook spring onions until shiny, then add garlic and stir.
- Add the black bean sauce mix to the pan along with fermented bean curd until it has dissolved.
- Add eggplant and fresh chilli to the sauce and stir lightly or toss until the eggplant pieces are evenly coated.
- Garnish with freshly sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds!