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Spicy Eggplant Stir Fry
5 from 5 votes
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Servings: 4
Author: Lisa Lin

Spicy Eggplant Stir Fry

This spicy eggplant stir fry is an easy, flavorful side dish that is great for dinner. Feel free to adjust the amount of spice specified below to suit your taste. You can usually find doubanjiang in large Asian supermarkets or Chinese grocers. For pan-frying directions, see notes.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Asian eggplant (454g), (see note 1)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil, or any neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons doubanjiang, (see note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn, ground (optional, see note 3)
  • 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes, depending on your desired level of spice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, (see note 4)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • sliced scallions for garnish
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  • Slice the eggplant into 2.5 to 3-inch sections. Then, slice each section into batons (or strips) that are about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. You don’t need to salt the eggplant for this recipe (see note 5 for more info). Set the eggplant aside.
  • Add 3/4 cup of oil to a wok and heat it over medium-high heat. (See note 5) Once the temperature reaches about 375ºF, it is ready for frying. You can test the temperature with a thermometer or by taking a small piece of eggplant and adding it to the wok. If the oil around the eggplant bubbles rapidly, the oil is ready for frying. 
  • Working in batches, add a large handful of eggplant batons to the wok. Flash fry for about 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, flipping the batons halfway. Using tongs, transfer the eggplants into a spider spatula. Give the spider spatula a gentle shake to shake off any excess oil from the eggplant. Then, transfer the flash-fried eggplant to a plate and flash fry another batch of eggplant batons. 
  • Eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge. After about 2 or 3 batches of frying, you’ll notice that there’s less oil in the wok. As a result, you’ll want to fry in smaller batches for the remaining eggplant. You can also add more oil to the wok. 
  • Once all the eggplant has been flash fried, turn off the heat. Pour some of the excess oil into a heat-safe bowl, leaving about 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. (See note 7)
  • In a small bowl, make the cornstarch slurry by whisking 1/2 cup water with 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch. This slurry will thicken the sauce later. 
  • Heat the wok over medium-high heat again. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Next, add the doubanjiang and swirl the paste into the hot oil. Cook for another 30 seconds. Then, add the ground Sichuan peppercorn (if using), red chili flakes, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.
  • Whisk the cornstarch slurry again before pouring it into the wok. Bring the liquid to a rapid boil and let the sauce simmer for 30 seconds to a minute to allow the sauce to thicken slightly. 
  • Add all the flash-fried eggplant back into the wok and stir to combine with the sauce. Turn off the heat and transfer the eggplant to a serving plate. Garnish the spicy eggplant with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve the spicy eggplant stir fry with jasmine rice.

Notes

  1. This is a long variety of eggplant. One pound should be about 2 or 3 Asian eggplant, depending on the size. It is fine if the amount of eggplant you have is slightly over a pound. However, you don’t want to go too much over 1 pound 2 ounces, as there won’t be enough sauce to season the eggplant well. 
  2. You can find doubanjiang in large Asian supermarkets, Chinese grocers or on Amazon (affiliate link). Wondering what to do with leftover doubanjiang? Use it to make my vegan mapo tofu recipe or in stir fries (fried rice, chow mein, etc.). Substitute: This won't yield the same result, but you can try a mixture of sweet chili sauce and black bean garlic sauce to replace the doubanjiang.
  3. I ground the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar.
  4. The sugar balances out the flavors of the doubanjiang. If you want to avoid using additional sugars, you can omit it.
  5. Many eggplant recipes will say to salt the eggplant and let it sit for a little while before draining the excess water and patting the eggplant dry. I don’t find it to be necessary for this recipe. Asian eggplant isn’t very bitter to begin with. Plus, the minimal amount of moisture in the eggplant isn’t a huge issue for flash-frying.
  6. If you don’t have a wok, you can fry the eggplant in a saucepan. You can also use a large pan to fry the eggplant, but you’ll likely need to use more oil so that the amount of oil is deep enough for frying. 
  7. You can use the excess oil for cooking for the next few days. There will be some small brown bits in the oil that you might want to strain before storing the oil in the refrigerator.
  8. Pan-Frying Directions: If you want to avoid frying the eggplant, you can pan fry the eggplant in a large pan over medium-high. Eggplant absorbs oil quickly, so use a generous amount of oil when pan-frying. Pan fry the eggplant for about 1 to 2 minutes and then flip over the pieces to pan fry the other side for another minute or so. 
  9. The nutrition information below is a rough estimate because it's difficult to measure how much oil is absorbed into the eggplant during the flash frying process.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.2g | Protein: 2.7g | Fat: 30.3g | Saturated Fat: 2.3g | Sodium: 797mg | Fiber: 3.9g | Sugar: 7.1g
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