We love Chinese food. When we used to live in Tampa, FL, there was this one particular Chinese restaurant we went to all the time that had a phenomenal garlic eggplant dish. I picked up a nice eggplant from the farmer’s market last weekend, and the first thing I thought of doing with it was recreating that dish, but putting our own spin on it, of course. The one we used to get in Tampa was more of an appetizer, and it only consisted of eggplant in garlic sauce, but this version is intended to be an entree, as it has a bit more ingredients and is quite filling.
Let us know what you think in the comments, and as always, enjoy!
Crispy fried eggplant coated in a sweet garlic sauce, stir-fried with chili pepper, onions, and tofu, served over a bed of jasmine rice, topped with crunchy fried garlic.
- 1 or 2 medium to large sized eggplants
- 1/2 package firm tofu
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 fresh red chili pepper, deseeded and diced – we used a red jalapeno
- 1 head garlic, chopped
- Crushed red pepper (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar or sweetener of choice – we used maple syrup
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Cut the eggplant into 1/2" cylinders. If the base of your eggplant is wide, like mine was, you can also cut the cylinders into half moons.
- Set the eggplant on a paper towel, and sprinkle both sides with sea salt. Let sit for 45 min. This will prevent them from soaking up oil. While the eggplant is curing, you can start cooking the rice and prepping the other ingredients.
- Cook 1 cup of jasmine rice according to package directions.
- Coat a frying pan with vegetable oil – peanut oil works best. Turn your stove on medium heat and let the oil heat up for about 5 to 10 min.
- Add chopped garlic to the pan and fry for about 3 to 5 min, until the garlic is light brown. Then remove from the oil and set aside. Be very careful not to burn the garlic or leave it in the oil, because it will get bitter if you do.
- Add the tofu to the pan and fry until lightly brown – about 10 min – occasionally stirring and flipping it so it does not stick. Reduce heat if tofu is sticking. Remove and set aside when done.
- Add eggplant to the pan and fry on each side until dark brown. Fry in batches if necessary. Remove and set aside.
- Add pepper and onions and stir-fry until onions are soft.
- Add tofu and eggplant back to the pan, drizzle a little sesame oil over them, and stir together well. Sprinkle in crushed red pepper if you want to increase spiciness.
- Pour sauce over the ingredients and coat thoroughly. At this point, I like to turn the heat off.
- Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle fried garlic on top. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro or any other herb you like.
The pepper we used in this dish was a red jalapeno – yes, sometimes they are red! The red ones are hotter than the green, so suffice it to say, it was one red hot chili pepper, indeed! The type of pepper you decide to use in this recipe is what will determine how spicy or mild it is. If your version isn't spicy enough for your liking, simply add crushed red pepper until you reach your desired heat, or use two chilis instead of one.
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