A delicious Chinese stir-fry, this dish gets it’s flavour from eggplant, garlic and dried shrimps fried in a sauce made with dark soy sauce, sesame oil and seasonings. Ready to eat in 30 minutes!
Can I simply say that I cannot ever get enough of eggplants! This is one of my favourite vegetables to cook and eat in Chinese cuisine, especially in this easy, delicious dish of eggplant stir-fried with garlic and dried shrimp in a dark soy sauce.
Eggplant also goes by the name, brinjal, as well as aubergine. Here in Singapore, we get the beautiful, deep purple variety.
Eggplant is a supremely versatile vegetable. It is every bit just as delicious deep-fried, smoked, grilled or baked, as it is braised, steamed or stewed.
In fact, eggplant can be prepared in so many ways because it’s mildly sweet flavour and tender texture when cooked, goes well with anything you throw in with it.
Why eggplants are so good for us
Don’t you love vegetables that not only taste good, but are also nutritionally beneficial for us?
Here’s why we should try incorporating more of eggplant in our daily nutrition plan:
- The eggplant’s lovely deep purple peel contains Vitamin D, which is scarcely present in other vegetables, as well as Vitamin E.
- Eggplants are also believed to cool down our body system, aid blood circulation, and improve healing from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine.
- And there’s more good news if you’re trying to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Consuming eggplants or brinjals regularly helps prevent hardening of blood vessels, protects the heart and blood arteries.
- With more eggplant in your nutrition, it can reduce high blood pressure as well as prevent a high level of cholesterol. Now, that’s something you can surely take to heart!
A Chinese Hakka recipe: eggplant with garlic and dried shrimp
I’m sharing a variation on a traditional Chinese Hakka recipe here for cooking eggplant.
Unlike Cantonese cuisine, I was less familiar with Hakka food and even when I had eaten a Hakka dish, I didn’t know it! It is less well known and not as prevalent.
But a lot of my favourite foods that I enjoy eating regularly are Hakka dishes like yong tau foo, pork belly with preserved mustard green (mui choy pork belly) and salt-baked chicken.
Hakka dishes are characteristically salty, fragrant and heavily flavoured, yet retaining the original taste of the main food ingredients. The harmonious balance of seasonings and sauces create very distinct, bold and umami flavours!
In this fried eggplant recipe, the vegetable’s hardy and extremely fleshy texture is first softened and browned until golden by a quick deep fry. This quickly cooks the eggplant flesh, without breaking it down.
The fried eggplant is then added to lightly sautéed garlic and dried shrimp, and deliciously flavoured with a sauce blend of dark soy sauce, chicken seasoning powder, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Finally, adding spring onions and red chillies gives this simple dish a tasty kick. You’ll be amazed how these simple ingredients can infuse such bold and complex flavours in this fried eggplant dish. It’s sumptuous and very satisfying.
Here’s what you will need:
- eggplant or brinjal, preferably the purple variety
- dried shrimp
- rice vinegar
- dark soy sauce
- chicken seasoning powder
- salt and sugar
- spring onion
- red chilli
How to cook eggplant with garlic and dried shrimp: Step-by-step
- Step 1: Fill a wok one quarter full with cooking oil. Heat up over high heat until oil is very hot. Deep-fry eggplant strips, in batches of 10 wedges until golden brown, about 1 minute or less.
- Step 2: Keep stirring the eggplant strips around in the hot oil, turning the fleshy side down into the oil to brown it. Remove with a slotted spoon. Repeat frying in batches until all the strips have been fried.
- Step 3: Drain the oil from the wok, leaving behind 2 tbsp of oil. When oil is hot, fry the dried shrimp until it becomes very fragrant. Once you see lots of bubbles or foam in the oil, about 15 to 20 seconds later, tip in the minced garlic and fry for a few seconds until fragrant. Add rice vinegar, and stir to quickly mix.
- Step 4: Next, add fried brinjal strips. Give it a good couple of tosses to mix well with the fried garlic and dried shrimp.
- Step 5: Tip in the dark soy sauce, chicken seasoning water, and sugar. Stir vigorously to mix well together and let braise for about 10 seconds. Do a taste taste at this point, and add more sugar or salt to your taste preference (do note that dried shrimp is a little salted as well).
- Step 6: Add ½ of the chopped spring onions and sliced chili. Stir-fry for a few seconds to mix well. Turn off heat. Scoop out onto a serving plate. Garnish with remaining chopped spring onions. Serve immediately.
Chinese Eggplant with Garlic & Dried Shrimp
- 600 g brinjal preferably purple variety
- 1 tsp salt for soaking water
- Cooking oil for deep-frying
- 25 g dried shrimp
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1½ tsp chicken seasoning powder
- 2 tbsp water
- 1½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 stalk spring onion finely chopped
- 1 red chili sliced
- Wash eggplant, trim the stem off, and cut into 2-inch sections. Slice each section into 4 -6 strips.
- Place into a large bowl and add enough water to cover, and add salt. Let soak for 10 minutes to remove bitter compounds. Drain and set aside to dry completely.
- Meanwhile, soak dried shrimp in some water until softened. Drain, finely chop or mince and set aside.
- Dissolve chicken seasoning powder in water and set aside.
- Fill a wok one quarter full with cooking oil. Heat up over high heat until oil is very hot.
- Deep-fry eggplant strips, in batches of 10 wedges until golden brown, about 1 minute or less. Keep stirring the strips around in the hot oil, turning the fleshy side down into the oil to brown it.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on metal rack. Repeat frying in batches until all the strips have been fried. Turn off heat.
- Drain the oil from the wok, leaving behind 2 tbsp of oil. This time, heat up wok over medium heat.
- When oil is hot, add dried shrimp. Fry until the dried shrimp is very fragrant, and you can see lots of foam in the oil, about 15 to 20 seconds.
- Add minced garlic, and fry for 10 seconds until fragrant. Add rice vinegar, and stir around for a few seconds.
- Next, add fried brinjal strips, dark soy sauce, chicken seasoning water, and sugar. Stir vigorously to mix well together and let braise for about 10 seconds. Do a taste taste, and add more sugar or salt, to your liking (do note that dried shrimp is a little salted as well).
- Add ½ of the chopped spring onions and sliced chili. Stir-fry for a few seconds to mix well. Turn off heat.
- Scoop out onto a serving plate. Garnish with remaining chopped spring onions. Serve immediately.