This delicious eggplant stir fry is made with a garlic-soy sauce and cooked until succulent. Great served with rice or noodles as a speedy main dish. You can even add protein to make it extra hearty!
Is there anything better than an eggplant stir fry?
Eggplant is such a versatile vegetable, and soaks up flavours like a sponge. And this recipe is no exception!.
This simple dinner recipe combines tender chunks of perfectly cooked eggplant with a rich, savoury garlic sauce. It's restaurant-worthy but without the price tag!
Coming together in less than 30 minutes (and you can cut that down to 15 mins if you skip the soaking step), this recipe is rich, savoury and incredibly satisfying. Definitely one for eggplant lovers.
Why you'll love this
Just a handful of ingredients - All you need are eggplants and a few pantry ingredients like garlic, ginger and soy sauce. So easy.
You can make it a more filling meal! Just serve with your choice of protein (I love quick crispy tofu) and rice or noodles for an extra hearty main course.
Like takeout but cheaper - Get the same delicious, umami flavours to satisfy your cravings for a fraction of what you'd pay at a restaurant. It's better for you too as takeout versions use a lot of oil.
Eggplant - I recommend using long Chinese eggplant or Japanese eggplant as they're succulent, have fewer seeds than regular eggplants, and are a vibrant purple colour. You can use regular or globe eggplants if you don't have them.
Cornstarch - Adds crispiness to the eggplant and thickens the stir fry sauce when cooked. Sub tapioca starch or potato starch if you don't have it.
Garlic - The main sauce ingredient. Gives it flavour and depth.
Ginger - Compliments the garlic in the sauce. Adds a little heat!
Soy sauce - Adds that savoury, umami flavour to the sauce. Use tamari (gluten free soy sauce) if you're sensitive to gluten.
Sugar - Balances out the salty taste of the soy sauce. I recommend a brown sugar, or something like coconut sugar as it has a rich taste.
Why do you need to soak eggplant before frying?
Let's get one thing straight: I don't think it's essential to soak and salt eggplant before frying. There, I said it. (In my opinion, the most important thing is ensuring it's well seasoned.)
That said, there are benefits to soaking your eggplant, particularly if it's a larger one.
- Soaking can remove bitterness.
- It tends to give you crispy eggplant.
- It removes excess water so it holds its shape when cooking.
But in my view it's not essential. I regularly don't soak my eggplant - I just chop and cook. Sure, it's a little softer, but I've not found much difference in flavour.
It's up to you. If you have time, try soaking and see if it makes a difference. If you don't, skip it.
How to make eggplant stir fry
1. Cut eggplants into 4 pieces lengthwise, then cut each piece into rough 2-inch strips.
(NOTE: The next two steps are optional and will give you crispier, firmer eggplant. If you're short on time, you can skip to step 4 and fry the eggplant without soaking/coating.)
2. Stir 1 teaspoon of salt into a large bowl of water, and submerge eggplant pieces in the salt water (cover them with a plate to ensure all pieces are submerged). Leave to soak for 15 minutes.
3. Drain and pat dry eggplant, then toss the pieces in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, ensuring eggplant is evenly coated.
4. In a small bowl, mix together sauce ingredients: 2½ tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (use a whisk to break down cornstarch lumps).
5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or large pan on medium-high heat. Add eggplant in a single layer and fry until golden brown - 6-8 minutes - flipping frequently. (If skillet isn't large, repeat for a second batch.)
6. Transfer eggplant to a plate, and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Sauté minced garlic and ginger for 30 seconds until fragrant.
7. Add stir-fry sauce and cooked eggplant to the skillet, and stir while cooking for one more minute to allow the sauce to thicken.
8. Decorate with green onion slices and sesame seeds, and served with rice or noodles if desired.
See step-by-step how to make my eggplant stir fry.
Soak - As mentioned above soaking your eggplant is not essential, but it will help you achieve firmer, crispier pieces if that's your desired outcome. If you have the time, try soaking.
High heat oil - Be sure to use a cooking oil that's stable in high heat, as some oils don't perform well at high temperatures. I like using avocado oil personally.
Store any uneaten eggplant stir fry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat in a microwave or on the stove before eating (if reheating on the stove, you may need to add a little water to stop eggplant sticking to the pan).
What to serve with eggplant stir fry
You can serve any of the following with eggplant stir fry:
- Brown or white rice
- Noodles (pad thai, udon etc.)
- Crispy Tofu (can be added to the sauce for an eggplant tofu stir fry.)
More vegan dinners under 30 minutes
Chinese eggplant is widely available in Asian stores, but these days you can also find it in the farmers market and many supermarkets.
See section above where I talk about this! It can be helpful to soak your eggplant before frying as it makes it crispier and firmer, but it's not essential.
Easy Eggplant Stir Fry with Garlic Sauce
- 2 large Chinese long eggplant (can also use regular eggplant)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2½ tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon sugar (I like coconut sugar)
- 2½ tablespoon oil suitable for high heat cooking
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- Green onions/ spring onions
- Sesame seeds
- Cut eggplants into 4 pieces lengthwise, then cut each piece into rough 2-inch strips.
- (NOTE: The two next steps are optional and will give you crispier eggplant. If short on time, skip straight to step 4 and fry eggplant without soaking/coating.) Stir 1 teaspoon salt into a large bowl of water, and submerge eggplant pieces (cover with a plate to ensure pieces are submerged). Leave to soak for 15 minutes.
- Drain and pat dry eggplant with paper towel, then toss in 1 tablespoon cornstarch, ensuring eggplant is evenly coated.
- In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch until combined (use a whisk to break down cornstarch lumps).
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or frying pan on medium high heat. Add eggplant in a single layer and fry until golden - 6-8 minutes - flipping frequently. (If skillet isn't large enough, do two batches.)
- Transfer eggplant to a plate. Add remaining ½ tablespoon oil to skillet. Sauté garlic and ginger for 30 seconds on medium heat.
- Add sauce and cooked eggplant to skillet, and cook - stirring - for one minute to allow sauce to thicken.
- Decorate with green onion slices and sesame seeds, and serve with rice or noodles if desired.
Nutritional information per serving
If you’ve tried this eggplant stir fry recipe, please leave a comment or tip for others below!