Chinese eggplant vs eggplant

In the Mediterranean, they are known as aubergine. However, the Americans called them eggplant, Australian recognized them as eggfruit, the Africans refer them as garden egg, while the Asians, particularly the Native Indian, named them as brinjal.

But I’m guessing you are here not to debate about their name, right? Instead, you are confused about regular eggplants and Chinese eggplants. What are the differences between them?

Well, you have come to the right place.

In this post, I will give you the key differences between a regular eggplant and a Chinese eggplant, as well as a little extra information about other varieties of eggplant that you might want to try.

Read on to know more.

What is meant by “regular eggplant”?

Before we dive into the main meaty topic, I just want to make sure that we are on the same page.

When I say regular eggplant, what I meant is the eggplant that you commonly buy in the grocery stores.

Often times, the eggplants that are sold in the grocery stores are the standard globe eggplant or otherwise known as Western or American eggplant.

They are the largest and cheapest types of eggplant commonly available in the grocery stores.

So in this particular post, I will lay down the main differences between the American eggplants (known as the regular eggplants) and the Chinese eggplants.

What is “Chinese eggplant”?

Chinese eggplant is one of the varieties of Asian or Oriental eggplant that is cultivated across China and Asia.

They are usually characterized by their slim and cylindrical shape.

Chinese eggplant is also known as Oriental Charm and Pingtung Long.

Did you know? Other than being eaten as foods, the roots, leaves, and fruits of Chinese eggplants are used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to help relieve illness such as toothaches, fever, and intestinal disorders.

Chinese eggplant vs. Regular eggplant. 7 key differences that you should know

A regular eggplant can be differentiated from the Chinese eggplant based on their size and shape, color, length, the number of seeds, flavor, and application.

The difference in size and shape between regular and Chinese eggplant

Differentiating the size and shape of regular eggplant from Chinese eggplant is fairly easy because the two of them are very different in appearance.

Regular eggplant is the fattest eggplant with a globe or oblong shape. Some characterize them as having a teardrop shape.

On the other hand, Chinese eggplant is more slender with skinny and cylindrical in shape.

The difference in color between regular and Chinese eggplant

Typically, regular eggplant is darker than Chinese eggplant.

Chinese eggplant can be easily identified by their pale or light lavender to purple skin, while the regular eggplant has dark purple skin.

The difference in length between regular and Chinese eggplant

Regular and Chinese eggplants have pretty much the same length. However, regular eggplant can grow longer than Chinese eggplant.

Regular eggplant has a length ranges from 15 cm to 25 cm, while Chinese eggplant is about 15 cm to 20 cm in length.

The difference in the number of seeds between regular and Chinese eggplant

Chinese eggplant contains little amount of seeds compared to the regular eggplant.

The difference in flavor or taste between regular and Chinese eggplant

Generally, the amounts of seeds affect the bitterness of eggplants.

The more seeds an eggplant has, the bitter it taste.

Due to the fact that Chinese eggplant has less number of seeds, it is not bitter like that of typical eggplant and tends to have a mild and sweet flavor.

In fact, Chinese eggplant is considered to have the most delicate flavor of all eggplants varieties.

On the other hand, regular eggplant is less flavorful.

The difference in cooking and application between regular and Chinese eggplant

Because of the different size, shape, and texture of regular and Chinese eggplant, they are perfect for selected cooking and delicacy.

Being the largest and fattest eggplant variety, regular eggplants have a big and meaty texture and flesh that you can chop and slice up to make grilled or roast eggplant.

Chopped regular eggplants are also best for stews, dips, and ratatouille.

Chinese eggplants, on the other hand, has a slimmer shape with flavourful texture making them perfect for stir-frying, sautes, braising, and even grilling.

The great thing about Chinese eggplants is that they have tender flesh that cooks faster than other eggplant varieties. Their flesh will also become extra creamy as they are cooked.

Furthermore, they can hold up well to different flavors including spicy, sweet, and savory flavors.

Eggplants that can be used as substitutes for the regular and Chinese eggplant

No eggplant is created equal.

Certain eggplant recipes may not work out the same when you try to use different types of eggplant in your cooking as each variety may have a different flavor.

The following are some recommended types of eggplants to be used if you wish to substitute regular or Chinese eggplant in a recipe (adapted from The Cook’s Thesaurus).

For regular eggplant, the recommended eggplant to replace them are Italian eggplant which is smaller yet similar, or Japanese eggplant.

One regular or American eggplant is equivalent to 3 Japanese eggplants. So if you plan to use Japanese eggplant as the substitute for regular eggplant, try to adjust the recipe according to this measurement.

For Chinese eggplant, the recommended substitutes are Japanese eggplant which is very similar to Chinese eggplant, or small Italian eggplant.

Other unique varieties of eggplants that you may want to try

You might be thinking that all eggplants are purple and oblong, right?

Well, you are wrong.

Here are some of the varieties of eggplants that you might never heard of and are worth to try.

Casper eggplants

Ever saw a white eggplant?

Casper eggplants is elongated in shape and have the color that defy the common belief of purple eggplant, they are white!

They can be found particularly in Southeast Asia.

Compared to the American eggplant, Casper eggplants have a more delicate taste but firmer flesh.

Some say that they have a mild flavor that almost tastes like mushroom.

Calliope eggplants

This spineless eggplants are unique in the sense that they are oval in shape with violet and white-streaked.

Calliope eggplants can be found in Asia, Europe, and even Africa.

Rosa Bianca eggplant

Rosa Bianca is the Italian heirloom that grows in a hotter region.

They are round with white and lavender streaked.

They are not bitter and in fact, have an incredibly sweet flavor with a mild flesh and creamy texture.

Thai eggplant

Thai eggplant is shaped and sized like a golf ball.

In terms of flavor, Thai eggplant tastes bitter than the regular eggplants so it is recommended to remove their bitterness first before using them. This can be done by removing their seeds.

They are usually colored green with a mix of yellow or white. Nevertheless, they can come in a variety of colors.

Turkish eggplant

The weird thing about this eggplant is that it is shaped and look like a tomato.

This red and orange eggplant can be found in Asia and Africa.

It has rather soft flesh and tastes somewhat bitter.

Related Question

Are Chinese and Japanese eggplant the same? Though sharing very similar features with each other, Japanese and Chinese eggplants are not the same. Japanese eggplant is slightly smaller and has a dark purple skin while the Chinese eggplant usually has lighter purple skin and more delicate flavor.

Most of us think of eggplant as a large, dark purple, and oblong shaped vegetable that’s always available. It’s the perfect vegetable to be used for grilling, roasting, or baking with its slightly bitter taste that turns sweeter as it cooks. Well, it turns that there are a good amount of eggplant varieties other than the basic purple eggplant.

When you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market, you might find interesting eggplant fruits in different sizes and colors that can be used in a number of ways. Even though eggplant is available year round, peak season runs from July through October, so now is the time to stock up! Here’s our helpful guide to eggplant varieties you should be on the lookout for this season.

1. Globe Eggplant (American Eggplant)

A post shared by Hyuna (@hyunacynthia) on Jun 17, 2016 at 4:57pm PDT

The American eggplant is available at most grocery stores or markets. It’s skin is dark purple, it’s pear shaped and it has a meaty inside. The Globe eggplant is perfect to slice up and throw on the grill or dice it up and roast it in the oven.

You can even use this eggplant when you’re making Baba Ghanoush, a delicious Middle Eastern spread or side dish.

2. Italian Eggplant

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Italian eggplant looks pretty similar to globe eggplant, but it’s size is slightly smaller. The dark purple skin is more tender and the inside tends to taste sweeter, but still just as meaty. You can use Italian eggplant in any dish, but it’s ideal for Italian dishes like eggplant Parmesan or you could roast it and combine with pasta, marinara sauce, and fresh mozzarella.

3. Japanese and Chinese Eggplant

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These gorgeous types of eggplant are known for their long, skinny shape and delicate flavor. This skin color for these eggplants range from light purple to deep purple to almost black in color. You can tell the difference between the two because Chinese eggplants are light purple. However, both varieties have a sweeter flavor and do not contain many seeds, which usually causes the bitterness.

Slice them up and toss into a stir fry or cut in half and throw them on the grill with some olive oil and seasonings.

4. White Eggplant

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This type of eggplant sure looks interesting, but there’s really no difference in flavor. It’s just as meaty and it’s great to use in any eggplant recipe.

5. Graffiti Eggplant

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Graffiti eggplant is known for the funky white and purple markings on the outer skin, which unfortunately disappear once cooked. Graffiti eggplant is about the same size as Italian eggplant with a sweet, less bitter taste. You can use this type in any eggplant recipe.

5. Indian Eggplant

A post shared by Veomany (@itsjusthoy) on Jun 1, 2018 at 12:05pm PDT

These tiny, but super cute Indian eggplants are most commonly used in Indian cooking. They’re also great to throw in to soups, stews, or even cooked whole. The eggplant peels are dark purple and the inside is very tender.

6. Fairy Tale Eggplant

A post shared by ??”??? (@kacokanda) on Oct 4, 2016 at 3:02am PDT

This miniature sized eggplant looks as cute as its name. It’s about the size of the palm of your hand and has very few seeds, which means it’s hardly bitter. The creamy textures makes it ideal for grilling or sautéing and served as a side dish alongside steak or chicken.

7. Thai Eggplant

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These tiny, round eggplants might be harder to find around the United States because they’re mostly found in Thailand, but if you do spot them, you’ll want to add them to a curry. They’re usually greenish in color, but there do come in purple and white.

Keep in mind that Thai eggplant has an extremely bitter taste, so it’s best to remove the seeds.

8. Rosa Bianca Eggplant

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This gorgeous Italian heirloom is an eggplant you’ll want to try out. It’s plump and round with shades and lavender and white throughout. It does not have a bitter taste to it and is very mild. It’s best for slicing up and throwing on the grill or roasting in the oven.

9. Filipino Eggplant

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Filipino eggplant is long and thin and sometimes slightly curved. The smooth, outer skin is dark purple with specks of green throughout. This type of eggplant has a delicate flavor and very few seeds and is commonly used for roasting, frying, or in stews.

10. Green Apple Eggplant

A post shared by Jessica Birrell (@jessebirrell) on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:53pm PDT

This eggplant variety looks like a small green apple from the outside. The interior is also a lot like an apple and has a creamy texture when cooked.

Watch: The Pawpaw is America’s Forgotten Tropical Fruit.

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In most recipes, the different types of eggplant are interchangeable. If you would like to serve a more delicate eggplant than the common type, use the mild-flavored, excellent Chinese and Japanese varieties.

Some cooks are concerned that their eggplant might be bitter. This should not happen if the eggplant is in good condition, fresh and well cooked. If a cooked eggplant turns out bitter, a little salt and extra virgin olive oil should correct the problem.

Here is a rundown of the common types of eggplant:

*Italian eggplants: Smaller, slimmer versions of the usual deep purple globe eggplants; useful for sauteing if you want small slices.

*Japanese and Chinese eggplants: Slim eggplants of zucchini size and shape. Japanese eggplants are dark purple. Often the Chinese eggplants are paler purple, with white skin just below the cap. Both have a slightly more delicate flavor than large eggplants and take only about half as long to cook.

*Egg-shaped white eggplants: These are attractive when raw, but sometimes their peel is tough.

*Indian eggplants, which are small and egg-shaped, with purple skins, can be found in some markets.

*Thai eggplants are very small, round and green, and are usually cooked whole.

Whichever type you choose, eggplant slices are delectable when cooked with caramelized onions and mild chilies and topped with a simple sauce of yogurt and garlic, or simply stewed with Middle Eastern spices.

– – –

Choosing and storing eggplant

Eggplants should be firm but not hard, and heavy for their size. Their skin should be glossy, with no bruises or brown spots, and the cap should be fresh-looking and bright green.

The common kind of large eggplant, often labeled globe eggplant or American eggplant, should have an even, deep purple color. Some cooks feel that narrower ones tend to have fewer seeds and better flavor than those that are broad at the base.

Eggplant can be kept for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator; after that, although its appearance may not alter, it can become bitter. Keep it uncut in an open plastic bag without letting other items press on it; if you bought it wrapped in plastic, unwrap it before storing it.

— F.L.

Grilled chicken and eggplant in tomato cilantro sauce

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 55 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

This dish is often made with stewed beef instead of chicken. It’s lighter and faster if you use boneless chicken thighs, and grill the chicken and the eggplant instead of frying them. They need only brief braising together to absorb flavor from the savory tomato sauce.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 large onion, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground allspice, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped, or 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with their juice

1 cup chicken broth

1 large eggplant, cut in crosswise slices about 3/8 inch thick

1 1/4 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts, with skin

2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice, optional Ground red pepper, optional

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook until golden, 7 minutes. Add garlic, allspice, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes; heat to a boil, stirring often. Stir in broth. Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened, 20 minutes.

2. Prepare a grill, grill pan or heat broiler with rack about 4 inches from heat source for medium-high heat. Brush grill rack lightly with oil. Brush eggplant with oil; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste. Add enough slices to make one layer without crowding. Grill until nearly tender, 3 to 4 minutes; remove. Grill remaining slices.

3. Rub chicken with oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon of the salt, and pepper and allspice to taste on both sides. Grill or broil chicken until nearly tender, 5-7 minutes per side. Remove chicken skin if you like. Cut each chicken piece in three or four pieces. Quarter eggplant slices.

4. Taste sauce for seasonings; add lemon juice and red pepper, optional. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the cilantro. Add chicken and eggplant to sauce. Heat just to a boil. Cover; simmer, stirring often, until eggplant is tender and chicken is cooked through, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 330 calories, 40% of calories from fat, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 93 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 30 g protein, 585 mg sodium, 7 g fiber

Vermicelli with Japanese eggplants, basil and Parmesan

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Makes: 4 appetizer servings

Try to use delicate Japanese or Chinese eggplants for this pasta, as they make small, attractive slices, but you can substitute Italian eggplants or use regular globe eggplant cut in quarter slices.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 pound Japanese or Chinese eggplants, cut in 1/4-inch slices

1/4 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper

2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded, cut in 1/4-inch strips

4 large garlic cloves, minced

3/4 pound ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped or 1 1/4 cups drained, canned diced tomatoes

1/2 pound vermicelli

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1/4 cup thin strips of fresh basil leaves

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant in batches; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to an ovenproof platter. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet; heat over medium heat. Add peppers; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the platter; cover. Keep warm in the oven.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet; heat over medium-low heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook over high heat, stirring often, until soft and thick, about 10 minutes. Taste; adjust seasoning. Keep warm over low heat.

3. Meanwhile heat a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat; add pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm to the bite, about 7 minutes. Drain well; transfer to a serving bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to pasta; toss. Add tomato sauce; toss. Reserve a few eggplant slices, pepper strips and basil strips for garnish. Add remaining eggplant and peppers to pasta; toss. Add remaining basil and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan; toss. Scatter reserved pepper strips over top; arrange eggplant slices in ring on top near edge of bowl. Sprinkle basil strips in center. Serve with extra Parmesan.

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The real reason I wrote this post is because I am amazed by how there are so many different types of eggplants. You thought that you knew about eggplants, but not only are there so many different kinds, but there’s also a bunch of interesting facts about them! For example, did you know that they have nicotine in them? Here’s some fun facts about them, and what different types of eggplants there are:

  1. Eggplants are actually a fruit (and not a vegetable), just like tomatoes, potatoes, and chili peppers! These ‘veggies’ are actually all in the Nightshade family… which also includes…Tobacco! Which is why…
  2. Eggplants actually contains the highest amount of nicotine found in any vegetable! Don’t worry though, you would have to have eat about 20 lbs (9kg) of eggplants to hit the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette!
  3. Some Foodies say there’s a difference in ‘male’ and ‘female’ eggplants and that they taste different! However, scientist disagree that there is such a thing.
  4. You thought you knew what eggplants…but eggplants vary in size and colors. Check them out these Eggplants around the world:

American Eggplants

Here’s your standard American Eggplants which looks a lot like Italian Eggplants (not pictured). American ones are more round, than your normal Italian ones.

Chinese Eggplants

Chinese eggplants have a thinner skin and are less bitter as it has less seeds (the seeds are what makes an eggplant slightly bitter). Here’s a delicious chinese eggplant dish I recommend: Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (魚香茄子).

Japanese Eggplants

Japanese Eggplants are more similar to Chinese Eggplants. The skin is thin and it has a sweet flavor. It can also be green, pink, white, lavender or purple.

Indian Eggplants

Indian eggplants are sweeter and more tender than American Eggplants. They’re small and round, just a few inches long, and have a smooth, dark purple skin.

Thai Eggplants

My personal visual favorite! These look the most different from those other eggplants that the first time I saw it I didn’t realize they were eggplants! They are tiny little eggplants and are more bitter than the American eggplant, especially the seeds. The seeds are removed before making Thai dishes such as Thai Green Curry with Beef Recipe.

Eggplants are such delicious things. Usually prepared like a vegetable, this meaty ingredient is actually a fruit and works in everything from stir-fry to pizza.

But when most people think eggplant, they think of the large classic Italian purple-black numbers. If that’s you, your world is about to get a whole lot more purple.

“There are all sorts of different varieties and different types,” says Beth Woods, a farmer with Oak Grove Plantation, in Pittstown, NJ. “And the different sizes all have different uses.”

While they might all remind you somewhat of the classic Italian globe eggplant, each variety is actually very different. Those different shapes, sizes, and flavors (!) are best suited for different uses in the kitchen. The long skinny ones are meatier, making them great for stir-fry. The babies are tender and mild, and can be eaten whole, skins and all. And generally speaking, the white varieties are sweeter.

So instead of that classic globe, try one of these out for size next time your eggplant cravings hit.

Japanese eggplant (left), Chinese eggplant (right)

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine Sacks.

Japanese Eggplant

Japanese eggplant are long and thin, with a dark, almost black color and glossy appearance. They get very soft and creamy when cooked, and have an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. These aren’t your eggplant parm guys, they are better for sautéing, stir-fried, or pickled.

Similar to the Japanese in shape, these ones are a bit longer and lighter in color and are slightly less sweet. They come in two varieties, Oriental Charm and Pingtung Long. Like Japanese eggplant, they have meaty flesh with few seeds, perfect for stir-frying and sautéing.

Bianca and Grafitti eggplant

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine Sacks.

Graffiti Eggplant

These come in both large and small sizes, and are named for their pretty and distinctive striped markings. They have small seeds and a thin peel, making them great to eat whole—no peeling necessary—and are good for baking, roasting, and stewing. They are also known as Purple Rain, Shooting Stars, Pandora Striped Rose, Listada De Gandia, and the Epi team’s favorite, Fairytale.

Bianca Eggplant

These large round oval eggplants are an Italian heirloom variety with a thin, light purple and white skin. The meat is sweet and creamy. Woods recommends this eggplant for stuffing or making eggplant Parmesan.

White and yellow Tango eggplant

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine Sacks.

Tango Eggplant

White eggplants, including the tango variety, come in both egg and pear shapes. They have a thicker skin (you’ll want to peel these!), but a firmer, creamier texture than purple varieties. The tango turns yellow later in harvest, when it will become firmer and stronger in flavor.

Santana Eggplant

If you’re gonna go big, pick up the Italian variety Santana, a tear-dropped shaped, dark purple eggplant. Woods especially likes to roast this one on the grill, then turn it into baba ghanoush. “These eggplant don’t split open as quickly. Others are stringy and harder, but Santanas are good for roasting on the grill.”

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Eggplant lovers, have I got a recipe for you! This is a quick and easy Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce that’s sweet and tangy. Plus, the eggplant pieces are so tender, they almost melt in your mouth. It’s a new favorite in my kitchen! Ready in 15 minutes from start to finish.

Chinese stir fries are the best. They are my go-to meals pretty much every time I want to cook something fast and easy.

The secret to making good stir fries is in the sauce – you have to add just the right amount to end up with a perfectly seasoned stir fry.

It’s not hard at all, you just need to use your wok regularly to go from beginner to expert in a flash. I’m at the point now where I can make a yummy stir fry with my eyes closed!

Take this Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce as an example – I’ve ordered this dish a couple of times and sadly both times the eggplant came undercooked sitting in a puddle of oil.

This left me with no other choice but to come up with my own homemade Asian eggplant recipe. A delicious Chinese eggplant recipe that’s easy to make and way better than any takeout version I’ve had!

What is Chinese Eggplant?

Unlike the big, bulbous American eggplant you are used to seeing in grocery stores, a Chinese eggplant is much smaller and longer.

Its skin is thinner and the flavor is also milder because it contains a lot less seeds (which cause eggplant to taste bitter) than the American type.

If you are wondering whether a Chinese eggplant is the same thing as a Japanese eggplant or an Asian eggplant, the answer is yes!

And if you happen to be searching for eggplant in Great Britain or Canada, look for the word aubergine, which is French for eggplant, as it may be called that.

Shopping for eggplant in South Asia or South Africa? Then look for the word brinjal.

How To Cook Chinese Eggplant

Cooking with Chinese eggplant is very easy!

There aren’t any specific techniques on how to cook Chinese eggplant – you can fry them in a pan with some oil, steam them or roast them in the oven.

The only thing to watch for is the texture – always make sure that your eggplant is cooked through before serving it. A semi raw piece of eggplant is about the worst thing you can serve on a plate!

For this recipe, we are going to stir fry the eggplant. The texture we are looking for is tender and pillowy that almost melt in your mouth. Yum!

Chinese Garlic Sauce

To make this Chinese garlic sauce you will need:

  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • Sesame oil

Chinese garlic sauce has an iconic flavor profile that can be found in many Chinese dishes. It’s sour, salty, nutty, and a little sweet. The sauce is added at the end of the cooking process so as not to mess with the delicate texture of the eggplant. Adding it too soon could result in a soggy eggplant bites, something we all prefer to avoid!

How to Make Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

  1. Making the sauce. Whisk the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and leave it on the side.
  2. Chop and stir fry the eggplant. Stir fry the eggplant with a little oil for a few minutes over medium heat, until they are tender. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl.
  3. Cook the garlic, ginger, and chilis. Use the same pan and after cooking them for a minute, return the eggplant to the pan.
  4. Add sauce and scallions. Stir fry for a quick minute and drizzle a little sesame oil.
  5. Serve with warm rice. Brown or white rice. Enjoy!

The best part about this eggplant stir fry recipe beside the amazing taste? It only takes 15 minutes to make!

I love it when this much depth of flavor can be developed without the need to simmer for hours. It makes cooking fun, easy and keeps the kitchen cool on hot and humid days.

Eggplant substitution

For those not big on eggplant, try using zucchini or thinly sliced potatoes (preferably chopped into thin sticks). Potatoes are often used in Szechuan cuisine despite the fact that we don’t see them very often on menus here in the US. They are a staple ingredient for the simple reason that they are cheap and take on pretty much any flavor you add to them.

Potatoes and chili crisp? Yes please. French fries with melted butter and soy sauce? Oh yessss….

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time. You can make it the day before and have it for dinner the next day, or even the day after. It keeps well refrigerated (for no more than 4-5 days).

Have I convinced you to make this Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce? I hope so. Trust me, this dish is so yummy you will add it to your dinner rotation!

What to Serve with Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Aside from a warm bowl of rice, there are plenty of other Chinese classics you can serve with this dish. Since this is a vegetable dish, you can pair it with chicken, tofu, and other protein-based dish such as:

  • Hunan Chicken
  • Singapore Chow Mei Fun
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan
  • Chicken Chop Suey
  • General Tso Sauce

Did you like this Chinese Eggplant With Garlic Sauce Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share?

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Tender eggplant stir fry in a spicy garlic sauce. Ready in 15 minutes.

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 people 1x
  • Category: Stir Fry
  • Method: Pan Frying
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Scale 1x2x3x

  • 2–3 long Japanese or Chinese eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2–3 Chinese dried red chilis, chopped
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped on the bias

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chinkiang vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and eggplant. Stir fry for a few minutes (about 5 minutes) until the sides are golden brown and the center is tender.
  3. Transfer eggplant to a plate and add remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the pan. Add garlic, ginger, red chilis and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add eggplant and scallions, toss and pour the sauce. Stir fry for 1 minute, until all the vegetables are coated and add sesame oil.
  5. Turn the heat off and serve with white or brown rice.

Keywords: Recipe, Chinese, vegetarian, vegan, stir fry

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