Recipe: Maggie’s Sichuan Eggplant Stir-Fry with Sweet Spicy Sauce



This spicy, mouthwatering Chinese dish takes the humble Eggplant to scrumptious new heights. The recipe is from the colourful new book from Maggie Zhu, Chinese Homestyle (Murdoch Books), which offers an impressive collection of Chinese plant-based dishes to temp the palette. Sure, you may have to make a quick trip to year nearest Chinese deli for a few ingredients, but it will be worth it! 

For this dish, crispy eggplant is covered in a sticky, sweet, sour, savory, and slightly spicy sauce. It’s a signature Sichuan dish that will turn eggplant haters into eggplant lovers.

YIELD 4 servings

PREP 15 minutes plus 15 minutes brining time COOK 15 minutes


2 or 3 Chinese eggplants (1 pound, or 454 g, total)

1 teaspoon salt


3 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

1 tablespoon doubanjiang

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more if needed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Salt, to taste (optional)


1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch

1/3 cup (80 ml) peanut oil

2 teaspoons whole Sichuan peppercorns

4 scallions, chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

8 to 10 dried Chinese

chili peppers


1. To prepare the eggplant: Remove the stems and cut the eggplants into long sticks about 2 inches (5 cm) long and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

2. Place the eggplant pieces in a large bowl and add water to cover. Add the 1 teaspoon salt and mix well. Place a pot lid on top of the eggplant to keep it submerged for 15 minutes. Strain and pat dry.

3. To make the sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, light and dark soy sauces, wine, doubanjiang, sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and ½ cup (120 ml) of water. Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.

4. To make the stir-fry: Right before cooking, sprinkle the eggplant with ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch and mix with your hands until the eggplant is evenly coated.

5. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the eggplant to the skillet without overlapping; you may need to cook in batches. Fry the eggplant pieces until most of the surfaces are charred and the eggplant turns soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. If the skillet starts to smoke, reduce the heat to medium.

6. Remove the pan from the heat. Pour all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan into a heatproof bowl, or use tongs to wipe the pan with a few layers of paper towels. Add the Sichuan peppercorns to the pan. Cook over medium heat until they turn dark brown. Remove them with a spatula and discard them. Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, stirring a few times to release the fragrance.

7. Stir the sauce again to make sure the cornstarch is dissolved, then pour it into the pan. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the eggplant and quickly stir to combine everything well. Turn to the lowest heat and carefully taste the hot sauce. Add more salt or sugar if needed. Increase the heat to medium and stir to mix well again.

8. Immediately transfer the contents of the pan to a large serving plate and serve hot.