Chinese eggplant is a skinny eggplant, compared to other varieties, and has a mild and sweet taste that lends itself well to the strong flavors of Asian cuisines. Try using it in other eggplant dishes, such as roasted Chinese eggplant.
The deep purple skin is rich in antioxidants, and since it is so thin, it can be left on during the cooking process if desired, speeding preparation time and making this vegetable a delicious choice for a quick weeknight stir-fry.
The added step of grilling the sliced vegetable first for your long purple eggplant recipes takes only a few minutes and adds depth and a smoky finish to the flavor of the dish.
According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, eggplant is a versatile vegetable that can be stewed, sautéed, fried or stuffed. Alternately, oven roasting is another method for coaxing out the eggplant's sweetness while maintaining nutrients for a fast-fix and sophisticated side dish.
Read more: Can You Eat the Skin on an Eggplant?
Grill and Stir-Fry Skinny Eggplant
Step 1: Choose Your Eggplant
Choose eggplant that is firm and free from blemishes or soft spots. Store your eggplant unwashed and uncut until ready to use, as recommended by Illinois Extension. Wash it well in cool water and dry completely. Slice off the stem end,and cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices on a slight diagonal.
Step 2: Heat the Grill
Heat your grill to medium-high.
Step 3: Grill Each Side
Brush the slices with sesame oil and grill for two minutes per side, or until grill marks appear.
Step 4: Whisk Together Ingredients
Whisk together ingredients for a stir-fry sauce, like soy sauce, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar and cornstarch, in a small bowl.
Step 5: Heat Some Oil
Heat sesame oil in a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Add popular Chinese aromatics, like garlic, chilies, white parts of the onion and ginger, and sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Step 6: Stir-Fry the Eggplant
Add the grilled eggplant and stir-fry for one minute. Add the sauce and allow it to thicken slightly.
Step 7: Serve With Sauce
Transfer the dish to a serving platter and top with green parts of the onions. Serve hot.
Alternately, instead of using the grill and saute pan, you can leave the eggplant on the grill for a total of six minutes. Cook the prepared sauce in a small saucepan on the stove until it thickens slightly and serve the grilled eggplant with the sauce on the side. You can also opt to cook everything in the saute pan and skip the grill completely, although the eggplant may be a softer, less firm texture.
Quick and Easy Oven Roasting
Step 1: Heat the Oven
Heat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Remove Stems and Cut
Remove the stems from the eggplants and cut each one in half lengthwise.
Step 3: Add Oil and Seasoning
Place the eggplants, cut side up, on a baking sheet covered in foil. Brush liberally with olive oi, and season with salt, pepper and a seasoning mix such as herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning.
Step 4: Cook to Desired Doneness
Cook roasted Chinese eggplant for seven to 10 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they are not becoming too brown. The eggplants are done when they are completely tender (stick a knife into one to check) and golden brown.
Transfer to a serving platter and serve with a bit of feta cheese crumbled on top if desired.
Read more: What Vegetables Cannot Be Eaten Raw?
Try These Cooking Tips
According to the University of Illinois Extension, eggplants bruise easily, so handle them gently. For less heat, seed chilies before adding.
The eggplant can be sliced and grilled up to 24 hours before preparing the rest of the dish. Store the grilled eggplant tightly covered in the refrigerator.
Although grilling the eggplant imparts more flavor, you can omit this step and simply stir-fry the eggplant with the sauce for a total of six to eight minutes.