Braised Eggplant in Sweet Bean Sauce (醬燒茄子)

Many ingredients featured on this site so far required a trip to a Chinese grocery store. But my friend, today this is not the case.

With eggplant’s international status you are bound to find some in most parts of the earth even with the temporary shortage currently running in North America.

In Chinese cuisine, my favorite eggplant dishes are either stewed or braised usually in some kind of sauce. When it’s done right, the eggplant would taste like a chunk of grilled meat covered in sauce – you feel the crispiness and firmness on the surface; and as you bite into it there is this warm explosion of eggplant juice and tenderness.

Despite my love for eggplant I had always avoided cooking it at home. The reason is simple. In order to achieve that steak-like firm surface and juicy soft interior, the restaurants often deep fry the eggplant (therefore soaks up a large amount of oil) before cooking it. And as you may already know that deep frying is something I try not to do too often at home unless it’s something as tempting as the Chinese Buffet Style Coconut Shrimp.

In a recent experiment, I produced the restaurant like eggplant dish without deep frying. The trick is to substitute frying with oven baking. The dish came out just as firm outside and soft inside as the deal you usually get from a Chinese restaurant.

I braised the eggplant with sweet bean paste sauce. The bean paste’s sweet and savory flavor goes very well with the eggplant. True there is some extra work involved but it’s worth it if you really want that restaurant texure without feeling guilty.

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Braised Eggplant in Sweet Bean Sauce – Ingredients

2 Eggplant (Chinese eggplant in picture)

¼ lb ground pork (or other meat of your choice)

2 tbsp Soy sauce

2 tbsp Sweet bean paste (find more info from this previous dish)

2 tbsp cooking wine

2 Scallions chop the white part and cut the rest into 2 inch long pieces

2 sliced Ginger, shredded

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Braised Eggplant in Sweet Bean Sauce – Step By Step

1. Cut the eggplant into 3 x 1 chuncks. Salt the eggplant with 1/2 tbsp of salt for ½ hour. Drain out the liquid.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Brush a generous layer of oil on a large baking sheet. Arrange the salted eggplant in single layer and lightly brush some oil on the eggplant surface.

3. Bake the eggplant for 15 minutes. Check to see if the eggplant is crispy and firm outside.  Bake for additional 5 minutes if

4. Pre-cook the ground pork in 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat. Mix in 1 tbsp of cooking wine. Cook

5. Over low heat, combine 1 tbsp of oil, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of sweet bean paste, 1 tbsp of cooking wine, 2 tbsp of water scallion whites, and ginger. Cooking until the mixture becomes bubbly. About 2 minutes.

6. Add the pre-cooked meat and eggplant. Mix with the sauce gently. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the rest of the scallion at the end. Thicken the sauce with corn starch if necessary.

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Serve it hot but make sure enjoy the dish slowly and carefully as eggplant stews are known for causing frequent tongue burning situations in the restaurants…

19 comments

  1. Pingback: Lunch at Long’s | followmyfoodtrail

  2. 8

    Chaozhou cuisine has a similar dish but they cook it in a claypot. Visited Shantou, Guangdong last year and saw that it is a popular dish there. Very delicious. By the way the 2 tablespoons sweet bean paste is missing from step 5 above. Your recipe worked out very well. Thanks.

    • 8.1

      Hi Liz, thank you so much for pointing out the missing sweet bean paste. I just corrected it. I’d love to try the similar eggplant dish from Chaozhou. Do you have happen to have more information on it? Thanks!

  3. 7

    I have just returned to the U.S. after living in Wuhan for a year and have been looking for a recipe for making Chinese style eggplant dishes. I absolutely loved the eggplant there and have had no idea how to make it. Your recipe looks really good and easy to follow, thanks so much for posting it!!!!

    • 7.1

      Hi Dante, thanks for checking out my blog. How did you like Wuhan? I went to Wuhan a few times when I was little and I absolutely loved the food there. I hope you get to try this recipe and please let me know if you have any questions 🙂

      • I liked Wuhan a lot, I will miss the food for sure! The recipe worked out well, I am sure I will be using it a lot in the future. I will have to experiment with the flavoring, I decided to try using the 海鲜 sauce but that wasn’t the flavor I was used to for eggplant dishes.

        • Glad to heard the recipe worked. If you want to make it spicy, you can consider using some Sichuan spicy bean paste. Thanks.

  4. 6

    Hi Yi

    Love your site – I’m new to it but enjoy reading it. I like the fact that you have the titles of the dishes in Chinese since sometimes the English translation can be confusing. I am wondering if it’s possible also for you to have some of the ingredients listed out in Chinese? Something such as sweet bean paste, I am guessing it is 甜面醬, but I can’t be sure. So it would eliminate a lot of confusion if you could also have the chinese next to your ingredients! Thanks!

    • 6.1

      Hello Lily, thanks for your visit. I appreciate for your kind words. I am working on a ingredient/spice page they’ll contain all the often-used ingredients/condiments with descriptions and pictures (and with Chinese names if available). Once it’s done I’ll link all the mentioned ingredients from each recipe to that page.
      Thank you again and I hope you have found this blog helpful.

      P.S. yes sweet bean paste = 甜面醬 🙂

  5. 5

    Dear Yi, must really thank you for this wonderful Baking instead of deep frying tip.. although I love eggplants, I have always avoided this dish in restaurants or at home, because the layers of oil turned me off. But now…. this disjh has become my family’s favourite!
    Thanks again..
    Ronny

  6. 4

    I have never baked eggplant before. This I must try. I am very curious of how it taste like.

  7. 3

    I cannot believe how lovely and simple this is! I love the eggplant dishes I have eaten in various restaurants. I was, truth be told, not ingenious enough to get around the frying necessary. I look forward to trying this soon!

  8. 2

    i used to avoid making eggplant dishes at home for the same fear of deep frying at home!
    since then, i half steam halved egg plants (in my rice cooker hehe) before baking it with a layer of miso paste on top!

    i can so imagine me downing bowls of rice with this sweet bean eggplant dish tho…thanks for a great dinner idea this week! 😀

  9. 1

    YUMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!! my fav home dish!!!!!!!!!! thanks Yi for sharing, folks should try this at home, super easy & yummy with rice 🙂

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