Spicy eggplant in garlic sauce Spicy eggplant in garlic sauce Israeli Kitchen Photo: Miriam Kresh

Spicy eggplant in garlic sauce

Sweet and sour and chili hot, this Chinese-inspired dish will wow your guests.

  • Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes

It was Friday, and I was cooking for the weekend in an uninspired way. Just your basic basil/lemon chicken roasted over root vegetables. Israeli salad (plenty of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, seasoned with salt, lemon juice and olive oil). Hummus, corn salad, a plate of olives and pickles. The guests were a family with three small children. While I kept the meal plain to please the little people, I wanted one sophisticated dish for the grownups.

I opened the fridge and found two firm, purple eggplants in the vegetable bin. Aha.

Slice, flour, and fry them? Too ordinary.

Ratatouille? Somehow I wasn’t in the mood for ratatouille.

So I searched the friendly Internet and found The Eggplant Recipe Database. I adapted this Chinese-ish recipe from it. It’s sweet and sour, chili-hot and has lots of garlic. My adult guests loved it, and even the Little One, who claims to hate all purple food, ate and enjoyed.

Note: This is a good vegetarian dish. It makes a fine complement to brown rice and the salads mentioned above.


  • 4 cups chopped eggplant; pieces about 1 inch wide
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, green part only
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons hot oil to add when sauce is finished
  • A healthy pinch of chili flakes – or as much as you like (the dish should have some chili heat)
  • Oil for frying
  • Note: I was out of green onion, so I used about 1/4 cup chopped chives


Chopped eggplantChopped eggplant (Photo: Miriam Kresh) 

With Oriental recipes, most of the work goes into assembling and chopping the ingredients beforehand; the actual cooking goes quickly. To make life easier, have ready in separate bowls:

  • the chopped eggplant
  • the garlic and ginger, together
  • the ketchup, measured (just leave it in its measuring cup)
  • the sugar and vinegar, mixed to dissolve the sugar
  • the chopped green onions
  • the cornstarch, dissolved in water

Slice the eggplant in half, horizontally. Place each half skin up and cut through the peel first in horizontal, then in vertical slices. This will give you chunks with peel on each one.

Fry the eggplant in oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. The pieces should be cooked through and dark yellow.

Drain the eggplant on paper towels and set aside.

In the same skillet, fry the ginger and garlic, adding a little oil if needed. When a strong aroma arises, add the ketchup and stir for 1 minute.

Add the white wine, soy sauce and chili flakes, and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the sugar/vinegar mixture. Stir and simmer another few minutes.

Add the dissolved cornstarch in its water.

When the sauce starts to thicken, add the chopped green onions and hot oil. Stir for a minute.

Add the eggplant to the sauce. When it’s well coated with sauce, it’s ready to serve.

Serve hot or at room temperature over white rice or rice noodles.

Related Topics: Vegetarian

Recipes from the Israeli KitchenRecipes from the Israeli Kitchen