Chinese Spicy Garlic Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

Sweet fried garlic mingles with soy sauce and ginger in the sauce for this wok-seared eggplant. Steaming the eggplant, as opposed to deep-frying it, lightens the dish, which is adapted from a recipe in Grace Young and Alan Richardson’s The Breath of a Wok (Simon & Schuster, 2004). This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our November 2014 issue with the story The Glories of Garlic.

Chinese Spicy Garlic Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi) Chinese Spicy Garlic Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)
First steamed, then stir-fried, succulent eggplant mingles with sweet fried garlic, soy sauce, and ginger in this quick vegetarian entrée.
Yield: serves 4


  • 14 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Chinkiang (Chinese black vinegar) or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. shaoxing jiu (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 medium Japanese eggplants, sliced 2″ thick crosswise and cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (3″) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 14 cup minced scallions


  1. Stir soy sauce, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, chile flakes, and salt in a bowl; set sauce aside. Place half the eggplant in a pie plate. Bring ¾” water to a boil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok fitted with a bamboo steamer base. Place pie plate with eggplant in steamer base and cover with steamer lid; steam until eggplant is tender when pierced with a knife, 6–8 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a plate. Steam remaining eggplant, adding more water if necessary. Discard water and dry wok; heat over high. Add canola oil, garlic, and ginger; stir-fry 10 seconds. Add eggplant; stir-fry 20 seconds. Stir in reserved sauce and cook until sauce is thickened, 3–5 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil; garnish with scallions.