Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (鱼香茄子)

Learn how to make this classic Sichuan dish, aka Yuxiang Eggplant, or Fish Fragrant Eggplant

Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

This vegetarian-friendly dish was a favorite at my dad's old restaurant and all around the world.

Yuxiang Eggplant (yùh hēung 鱼香 ké jí 茄子) literally translates to Fish Fragrant Eggplant. Yuxiang is a famous flavor profile from Sichuan Province, home to one of the 8 major styles of Chinese cuisine.

My dad’s version of this popular eggplant dish not only celebrates the essence of the Yuxiang flavors, but it’s healthier and less oily than what you’d typically get at a restaurant, and the ingredients he’ll be using are generally more accessible to families like ours that aren’t surrounded by Chinese markets. 

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4
    Main Ingredients
  • 22 oz Chinese eggplant (

    western eggplants work too, with some modifications

    )
  • 2 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms (

    dried also works

    )
  • 4 mini sweet peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 0.50 oz ginger
  • 5 dried red chilies (

    adjust to your liking

    )
  • 3 pieces green onion
  • Yuxiang Sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (

    Can substitute with Tamari - Amazon

    )
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.50 tbsp ground bean sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine (

    optional

    )
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (

    add at the very end

    )

On Eggplants

Cultivated throughout Asia for thousands of years, eggplants come in many shapes, sizes, and names. 

Interestingly, in Italian, it’s called melanzana, which morphed into“mela insana” or“mad apple” in English, which is a nod to the 13th century beliefs that eggplants were extremely poisonous and could cause insanity.

While it is true that eggplant leaves and flowers can be toxic if you eat them in large amounts, eggplants are extremely nutritious with a ton of health benefits. 

How to Pick Eggplants

I also wanted to point out that we’re using Chinese eggplants for this recipe. My dad prefers them because they’re less bitter and have less seeds than other types of eggplants. This recipe still works with the wider, fatter types of eggplants, with some small adjustments that we talk about later. 

My parents talk about this in great detail throughout our recipe video, but here are some of the things they look for:

  • brighter skin
  • thin, slender (not thick)
  • should be easy to bend, not firm
  • smooth surface

Should you salt your eggplants?

Salting eggplants used to be a thing centuries ago when eggplants were much more bitter. Nowadays, salting doesn’t really have any noticeable effect on bitterness, because eggplants have been bred to be much more mild in taste.

However, if you’re frying them, salting eggplants does appear to help remove some excess moisture due to osmosis. The salt also helps break down some of the fibers, resulting in a more creamy texture.

In this recipe, my dad is going for a slightly firmer texture. If you’re looking for more of that restaurant-style creamy feel, check out Kenji’s video where he goes into lots of detail about his process, osmosis, and his own version of this recipe. 

Alternatives to Oyster Sauce

If you're vegetarian or need to stay away from gluten, we have three alternatives for you!

Vegetarian Oyster Sauce

Since oyster sauce is made out of oyster extract, here are some alternatives that have a similar taste without using the actual oyster:

Gluten Free Oyster Sauce

Wok Mei has a gluten-free oyster sauce, but it still contains oyster extract, so it's not vegetarian friendly.

Vegetarian + Gluten Free Oyster Sauce

Unfortunately, we don't know of a vendor that sells an oyster sauce that caters to both dietary restrictions, so you'll need to DIY the sauce.

Mix equal parts gluten free soy sauce and gluten free hoisin sauce. This isn't exactly the same as oyster sauce, but it's pretty close.

Finding Asian Ingredients

Some of these ingredients are hard to find in a typical grocery store.

If you don't live near an Asian market, most or all of what my dad uses in this recipe can be found on Amazon:​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

I've also included some other Chinese kitchen essentials, used in many of my dad's other recipes.

These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!

We'll place a steamer rack in our wok, pan, or steamer, and pour enough water to just barely submerge the rack. Set the stove on high heat and bring the water to a boil.

Then we'll wash the eggplants and cut away the stem.

We'll cut about 2 inch pieces along the length of the eggplant. To get more even cuts, you can take a freshly cut piece to measure your next cuts with.

Starting with the tail (the side opposite from the stem), slice the pieces length-wise into 4 long pieces.

Plating the eggplants for steaming

Transfer the pieces to a dish for steaming later.

There are two special things that my dad does here:

  • He places the skin-side down, facing the cores upward so they cook faster.
  • He cuts and plates the head of the eggplant last, because the head tends to be thicker and takes longer to cook.

They talk about this a lot more in our video.

Preparing Western eggplants

This recipe is largely the same with larger, thicker eggplants, with these changes:

  • The skin tends to be thicker than that of Chinese eggplants, so you can peel away some (not all) of the skin.
  • Cut away some of the seeds from the core

Start steaming

Carefully transfer the plate onto the steamer rack, and cover the wok. Steam for 15 minutes.

While we wait for the eggplant to steam for 15 minutes, we’ll start chopping our ingredients. 

We’ll be chopping our fresh shiitake mushrooms (2 oz) and mini sweet peppers (3) into small chunks. Cut the tops off of the peppers, and remove the seeds from the center.

We’ll also be mincing garlic (5 cloves), ginger (0.50 oz), green onion (3 pieces), dried red chilies (2) and another sweet pepper into fine pieces. 

  • We don't have to peel the ginger if we wash it thoroughly!

You can adjust the amount of dried chilies to your liking.

To make it easier for cooking later, my dad put:

  • the chunks of mushrooms and sweet peppers on one plate,
  • the minced ginger, garlic, chilies, and peppers on another plate,
  • and the green onions on a third plate. 

Next, we’ll prepare our Yuxiang sauce by mixing:

  • light soy sauce (2 tbsp)
  • dark soy sauce (1 tbsp)
  • oyster sauce (2 tbsp)
  • vinegar (2 tbsp)
  • brown sugar (3 tbsp)
  • ground bean sauce (0.50 tbsp)
  • cornstarch (2 tsp)
  • water (4 tbsp)
  • Shaoxing cooking wine (1 tbsp) (optional)

Mix until the sauce is even.

If you have dietary restrictions with oyster sauce, check out our section on alternatives!

Once the eggplants are done steaming, you can tell if they're done by squeezing them. They should be soft and a tad bit squishy, but not mushy.

Pour the eggplants into a colander to drain any excess water.

Next, we’ll dump out the water from the wok, dry it, and reheat the wok on high heat for a few minutes until it’s around 300-350°F. 

Then, we’ll add about 2 tsp of corn oil and let that heat up until it’s shimmering, or forming ripples across the surface. 

Once our wok is hot enough, we'll cook in a few stages (at restaurants, with an intense stove and a ton of oil, you can just dump everything in all at once):

  • Add the minced chilies + peppers, ginger, garlic. Cook & stir for about 30-45 seconds to release the aromatics.
  • Add the mushrooms. Optionally add some of the green onions. Cook & stir for about 20-30 seconds. 
  • Add the sweet pepper chunks, Cook & stir for about 60 seconds, constantly stirring the wok. 
  • Add the sauce, and cook until the sauce is boiling.
  • Add and mix the eggplant around with the sauce for about 60-90 seconds.
  • Add sesame oil (1 tsp) and stir.

Transfer the dish onto a plate, garnish with the green onions, and call your loved ones over!

Time to eat :)

Summary

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (鱼香茄子)
Learn how to make this classic Sichuan dish, aka Yuxiang Eggplant, or Fish Fragrant Eggplant
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 22 oz Chinese eggplant (

    western eggplants work too, with some modifications

    )
  • 2 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms (

    dried also works

    )
  • 4 mini sweet peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 0.50 oz ginger
  • 5 dried red chilies (

    adjust to your liking

    )
  • 3 pieces green onion
  • Yuxiang Sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce (

    Can substitute with Tamari - Amazon

    )
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce (

    Amazon

    )
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.50 tbsp ground bean sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine (

    optional

    )
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (

    add at the very end

    )
Step 1 - Prepare & steam eggplant↑ Jump to details

We'll place a steamer rack in our wok, pan, or steamer, and pour enough water to just barely submerge the rack. Set the stove on high heat and bring the water to a boil.

Then we'll wash the eggplants and cut away the stem.

We'll cut about 2 inch pieces along the length of the eggplant. To get more even cuts, you can take a freshly cut piece to measure your next cuts with.

Starting with the tail (the side opposite from the stem), slice the pieces length-wise into 4 long pieces.

Plating the eggplants for steaming

Transfer the pieces to a dish for steaming later.

There are two special things that my dad does here:

  • He places the skin-side down, facing the cores upward so they cook faster.
  • He cuts and plates the head of the eggplant last, because the head tends to be thicker and takes longer to cook.

They talk about this a lot more in our video.

Preparing Western eggplants

This recipe is largely the same with larger, thicker eggplants, with these changes:

  • The skin tends to be thicker than that of Chinese eggplants, so you can peel away some (not all) of the skin.
  • Cut away some of the seeds from the core

Start steaming

Carefully transfer the plate onto the steamer rack, and cover the wok. Steam for 15 minutes.

Step 2 - Cut vegetables↑ Jump to details
  • While we wait for the eggplant to steam for 15 minutes, we’ll start chopping our ingredients. 

We’ll be chopping our fresh shiitake mushrooms (2 oz) and mini sweet peppers (3) into small chunks. Cut the tops off of the peppers, and remove the seeds from the center.

We’ll also be mincing garlic (5 cloves), ginger (0.50 oz), green onion (3 pieces), dried red chilies (2) and another sweet pepper into fine pieces. 

  • We don't have to peel the ginger if we wash it thoroughly!

You can adjust the amount of dried chilies to your liking.

To make it easier for cooking later, my dad put:

  • the chunks of mushrooms and sweet peppers on one plate,
  • the minced ginger, garlic, chilies, and peppers on another plate,
  • and the green onions on a third plate. 
Step 3 - Prepare Yuxiang sauce↑ Jump to details

Next, we’ll prepare our Yuxiang sauce by mixing:

  • light soy sauce (2 tbsp)
  • dark soy sauce (1 tbsp)
  • oyster sauce (2 tbsp)
  • vinegar (2 tbsp)
  • brown sugar (3 tbsp)
  • ground bean sauce (0.50 tbsp)
  • cornstarch (2 tsp)
  • water (4 tbsp)
  • Shaoxing cooking wine (1 tbsp) (optional)

Mix until the sauce is even.

Step 4 - Finish steaming, start cooking↑ Jump to details
  • Once the eggplants are done steaming, you can tell if they're done by squeezing them. They should be soft and a tad bit squishy, but not mushy.

Pour the eggplants into a colander to drain any excess water.

Next, we’ll dump out the water from the wok, dry it, and reheat the wok on high heat for a few minutes until it’s around 300-350°F. 

Then, we’ll add about 2 tsp of corn oil and let that heat up until it’s shimmering, or forming ripples across the surface. 

Once our wok is hot enough, we'll cook in a few stages (at restaurants, with an intense stove and a ton of oil, you can just dump everything in all at once):

  • Add the minced chilies + peppers, ginger, garlic. Cook & stir for about 30-45 seconds to release the aromatics.
  • Add the mushrooms. Optionally add some of the green onions. Cook & stir for about 20-30 seconds. 
  • Add the sweet pepper chunks, Cook & stir for about 60 seconds, constantly stirring the wok. 
  • Add the sauce, and cook until the sauce is boiling.
  • Add and mix the eggplant around with the sauce for about 60-90 seconds.
  • Add sesame oil (1 tsp) and stir.
Step 5 - Plate & garnish↑ Jump to details

Transfer the dish onto a plate, garnish with the green onions, and call your loved ones over!

Time to eat :)

Step 6 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 7 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

My sister and I have many, many happy memories enjoying this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and my family.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.