I love eggplant, but Tony isn’t a big fan. Fortunately, I can usually win him over with Chinese-inspired recipes, like this Eggplant in Garlic Sauce. It boasts bolder flavors that compliment the eggplant. This is also a healthier recipe than most since it’s oil free! I originally shared this recipe over 15 years ago (time flies!), and am giving it a big update today.
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce that’s Plant-Based and Oil-Free
Eggplant typically soaks up oil like a sponge, which is why many eggplant dishes can taste oily. But this is a weeknight version that uses no oil at all. Simmering the eggplant in water helps to soften it before adding the other sauces.
If you do like a seared flavor, you can quickly sear the eggplant in a little oil (about 2 teaspoons) over high heat, and then continue with the method below.
When I first started making this dish, the grocers in my small town didn’t offer Chinese eggplant. So we used the regular Italian-style globe eggplants. But you can use Chinese or Japanese eggplant, if preferred. They typically require less cooking time.
Special Diet Notes: Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
- 1 medium globe eggplant, optionally peeled and cut into oblong pieces the size and length of 2 fingers side by side
- 1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic (about 2 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (gluten-free, if needed)
- 2 green onions or scallions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- Bring ¼-inch of water to a boil in a wide frying pan. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, until the eggplant is softened and very little water remains, about 7 minutes.
- Remove the eggplant to a bowl. Heat another ¼-inch of water in the pan. Add the garlic, ginger and hoisin sauce. Simmer briskly for 10 minutes, stirring and adding more water as needed.
- Add the soy sauce and green onions to the pan, then add the cooked eggplant, with a little more water if needed. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring to coat the eggplant with the sauce.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.