Chinese eggplant stir fry recipe is one of the easiest, quickest and most flavoursome meals that you can make with minimal ingredients. Firstly, smoky eggplant is floured and fried to make it crispy on the outside with a melt-in-the-mouth juicy texture inside. Secondly, it’s tossed with perfectly crunchy spring onions, bell peppers and white onions all flavoured with a citrusy coriander-seed and black pepper powder, spicy dried red chillis, and lots of garlic. Finally, the whole mix is coated in a glossy sauce that combines both sweet, sour and spicy elements.
It’s based on an authentic recipe called ‘烧茄子’ – Crispy Eggplant. I’m a beginner to authentic Chinese cooking, however this is really one of the simplest dishes that anyone can make, even as a beginner! It’s a satisfying and lip-smackingly tasty meal which takes less than 30 minutes. Not only that, but it’s perfect as either a main course or side dish paired with piping hot rice or boiled noodles.
This dish combines crunchy, fresh vegetables with the savoury, rich depth of eggplant and harsh spice of dried chilli peppers. The result is something so tasty it’s hard to believe it’s so simple.
This Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry is Vegan!
Yes, that’s right! I always include a section in all of my recipes to explain who they’re suitable for. This recipe happens to be:
- Vegan and Dairy Free
- Nut Free
- Gluten Free
- Alcohol Free
Like a lot of Chinese recipes, it uses a slurry to thicken the sauce and make it stick to the vegetables, sealing in the flavour. I’ve used cornflour (cornstarch in the US) which is naturally gluten-free. However, a lot of people don’t realise that Soy Sauce usually has trace amounts of wheat flour added to it, making it not suitable for a Gluten Free diet. Luckily I’ve found this Gluten Free Soy Sauce* from a brand I love which means that this recipe and can be made Gluten Free as well!
*Please note that as an Amazon associate, I make a small commission on every purchase made through my link, at no extra cost to the buyer.
About the Eggplant.
Eggplants – known as Aubergine in the UK and across Europe – come in many different varieties. For example, the ones most commonly used in Western Cuisine are the large, fat and long Italian Eggplant. On the other hand in Indian cuisine, you’ll see Baby Eggplants – Brinjals – used frequently. Ideally for this dish you should use Chinese Eggplants, which are a dark deep purple, very thin, and much longer than other varieties. The best eggplants will have a shiny skin as opposed to a dull one.
Chinese Eggplant can be quite hard to get hold of, so although the flavour will be slightly different do use whatever is available to you. In short, Italian Eggplants, Globe Eggplants and Japanese Eggplants will all work for this recipe.
A common concern or I hear from people about eggplants is texture based. However, let me assure you that this dish will absolutely change your mind if you’re still on the fence about whether or not you like eggplant. Because it’s coated in cornflour and deep fried, the eggplant has a lovely crisp outside with a melt-in-the-mouth soft interior that just disappears to nothing. It’s absolutely gorgeous, trust me!
This Vegan Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry Is …
- Based on an authentic Fengwei Chinese Eggplant recipe
- Vegan, Gluten Free, and Nut Free
- Quick and Easy
- Full of flavour with minimal ingredients
- Sweet, sour and spicy!
- Non-Greasy with the perfect texture
If you’re interested in more Eggplant recipes, do check out this traditional Indian recipe of Flame-Roasted Eggplant with Spinach.
Chinese Eggplant Stir-Fry - 烧茄子
For the Eggplant:
- 180g Chinese Eggplant/Aubergine, cut into small diagonal chunks
- 1/4 tsp Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Water
- 2 tbsp Cornflour
For the Stir-Fry:
- 25g Bell Pepper (or more if desired), cut into small cubes the same size as the eggplant
- 40g White Onion, cut into small cubes the same size as the eggplant
- 6 Dried Red Chillis, cut into small pieces
- 12 Black Peppercorns
- 18 Coriander Seeds
- 4 Cloves Garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle or finely chopped
- 1 Large Spring Onion, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 tbsp Sunflower, Peanut or Sesame Oil
- 1/2 tsp Chinese Black Vinegar, or Balsamic
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp White Sugar*
- 1/2 tsp Gluten Free Light Soy Sauce
For the Cornflour Slurry:
- 1 tsp Cornflour
- 3 tsp Water
- Toasted sesame seeds, optional
- Spring Onion greens, optional
- To begin, coat your eggplant. Firstly, add the chopped eggplant to a large bowl and sprinkle over the vinegar and water. Secondly, add 1 tbsp of cornflour and toss the aubergine in the bowl to coat. Add the next tablespoon of cornflour and repeat the same thing. The cornflour should create a layer on top of the eggplant and be dry to the touch. Please note that depending on how you’ve cut the eggplant, you may need a little more or less cornflour.
- Now deep-dry the eggplant. This deep-frying method retains the great colour and makes it crispy without being greasy. Always exercise caution around hot oil as it can be extremely dangerous. Heat sunflower or vegetable oil in a large, deep kadai, wok or deep fat fryer and wait for the oil to heat. You can test if the oil is ready by holding a wooden chopstick in the oil – if the oil bubbles around it, the oil is hot and ready. Add the eggplant in batches if needed to not overcrowd the pan, and fry until just a gentle golden, or around 3-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your powder. While the eggplant is frying, add black peppercorns and coriander seeds to a mortar and pestle, and roughly crush them to create a coarse powder. Set aside until needed.
- When the eggplant has finished frying, remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- To make the cornflour slurry, mix together cornflour and water until there are no lumps and set aside.
- To stir fry, begin by heating your wok or kadai to high heat. Once it’s steaming, turn the heat off and add your oil. Further swirl the oil around the sides of the pan to create a non-stick surface. Now, turn the heat to medium again and instantly add the crushed garlic, dried red chillis, and finally the black peppercorn and coriander seed powder. Stir and mix for 30 seconds, then add the bell pepper, onions, and spring onion. Stir fry around around 1-2 minutes, then add the fried eggplant, vinegar, salt, sugar and soy sauce. Finally, toss everything together to coat the vegetables in the seasoning.
- Finally, add the cornflour slurry to the pan and quickly stir everything together. Turn off the heat and immediately plate. Top with spring onion greens and sesame seeds, then serve.
* If you’re health conscious, you can omit the sugar. I like to add a tiny amount because it counter balances the acidity of the vinegar. Otherwise, you can use your choice of natural sweeteners, such a coconut sugar, honey or even maple syrup. Just bare in mind it’ll change the flavour of the recipe so add accordingly.
** If you have a non-stick wok or kadai, skip this step and simply add oil at medium-high heat.
What to Serve with Chinese Eggplant Stir-Fry?
Because of the wonderful textures and bold flavours of the dish, it works surprisingly well as a stand alone dish or as part of a bigger meal. Furthermore, if you want to serve it as a main, I would recommend a bed of steamed white or brown rice, or for a bit more nutrition a vegetable fried rice for vegans or egg fried rice for vegetarians. If you’re not a fan of rice, opt for rice-noodles (for gluten-free) or quick stir fried noodles instead.
If you make this recipe, share it with me!
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