This recipe is based on one of my favorite Chinese take-out dishes—spicy Szechuan eggplant—with a lot less oil than its restaurant counterpart. I’ve devised this lower-fat version as a way to satisfy my craving for it. Add tofu to make it more of a main dish (see the variation below recipe box). Otherwise, you can serve alongside a simple tofu or seitan dish. If you love eggplant, it's really tasty any way you present it. Photos by Evan Atlas.
Spicy Szechuan-Style Eggplant
- 2 medium eggplants about 2 pounds total
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic to taste minced
- ¼ cup dry sherry or red wine
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or more to taste
- 4 large celery or bok choy stalks thinly sliced on a diagonal
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or more to taste
- Asian hot sauce such as sriracha, Thai red chili paste, or other hot condiment, to taste
- 3 to 4 scallions thinly sliced
- Chopped fresh cilantro to taste
- Hot cooked rice or Asian noodles optional
- Heat the oil in a stir-fry pan or large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.
- Cut the eggplant into ½-inch-thick slices, then slice the rounds into thick strips or dice.
- Add the sherry, eggplant, and ginger to the pan, along with about ¼ cup water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the eggplant is just tender. Lift the lid once or twice during that time to stir.
- Stir the celery and hoisin sauce into the pan. Cook just until everything is heated through. Season to taste with soy sauce and hot sauce.
- Stir in the scallions and cilantro, or use them as garnish. If you'd like, serve the dish over or alongside hot cooked rice or noodles. Pass around extra hot sauce and/or soy sauce for individual servings.
Variation: To make this more of a main dish, add 8 to 14 ounces of extra-firm tofu, well drained and blotted, then diced. Add it at the same time as the eggplant so it can get a bit firmed up.