This quick, easy Pan-Fried Eggplant is made with a chili garlic sauce that’s sweet and tangy. The eggplant pieces are tender, without being mushy—they almost melt in your mouth! Serve it as a main dish or as a succulent side. Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish, this recipe is a new favorite in our kitchen and will be in yours too!
Why make your own chili garlic sauce?
Chili garlic sauce may feel like a healthier choice, but most store-bought versions contain an excessive amount of sugar and an array of highly processed (not-so-healthy) ingredients. We were so excited when we tried to duplicate the sauce using liquid aminos and the taste was just as I remembered.
What are liquid aminos? Why use them? Is there a soy-free alternative?
You may have spotted a bottle on shelves at a health food store or seen them listed in an array of real-food recipes, but what exactly are liquid aminos?
Liquid aminos are the concentrated amino acids extracted from soybeans. Different from soy sauce, liquid aminos contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins in our bodies. Unlike soy sauce, they don’t contain wheat (hello, gluten-free), are made of two basic ingredients (soybeans and water), have no added salt and are far less processed than soy sauce.
When it comes to taste, liquid aminos have a slightly less salty, milder and faintly sweeter taste than soy sauce. You can use them in just about any recipe that calls for soy sauce. Just make a 1:1 substitution and you’ll be all set.
If you choose to avoid soy, use can use coconut aminos 1:1 instead.
How to choose the BEST eggplant
- Look for smooth, shiny skin. Dull, wrinkly skin is a sign the eggplant was not harvested recently.
- Eggplant should be slightly firm but not hard. It shouldn’t feel soft.
- Choose eggplants that feel heavy for their size.
- The stem should be green.
- Choose small- to medium-size eggplant. Contrary to popular belief, bigger is NOT better when it comes to eggplant. Larger eggplants are more bitter, have a spongy interior and have more seeds. Steer clear of them. Smaller eggplants tend to be sweeter, less bitter, have thinner skin and fewer seeds.
- Eggplants, once ripe, should be stored in the refrigerator.
Our FAVORITE meal to serve this with
We often serve Eggplant with Chili Garlic Sauce as a main dish, but it can certainly pair as a side. Hands down, our favorite meal to serve this eggplant with is Firecracker Honey Glazed Meatballs and brown rice (served in one big bowl — YUM).
Some ways to reinvent your leftover Eggplant with Chili Garlic Sauce
So you don’t tire of eating the same dish multiple days in a row, switch things up by reinventing your leftovers. Try mixing things up:
- Served as a simple mid-day or after school snack (hot or cold)
- Puree and make a dip: Blend the eggplant in big batches, freeze the purée with a little lemon juice (to prevent discoloration) and use it in sauces and dips (like baba ghanoush).
- Grain bowls (or as we like to call them, Buddha bowls): Bowls are literally one of the BEST ways to mix and match leftovers! Layer your favorite rice or grain in a bowl with pan-fried eggplant and whatever else you have leftover in the fridge (turkey meatballs, sweet potatoes, avocados, matchstick carrots, onions, etc.). You can even drizzle your favorite dressing or sauce on top (Tzatziki, Hummus, salsa, BBQ sauce).
- Salad: Cold, on a spruced-up salad topped with sautéed or raw veggies or a Greek Chicken Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced red onions and feta
- Wraps: Slather tortillas or flatbread with pesto or hummus, top with greens, chicken, eggplant and veggies of choice.
- Mixed in with, or as a side to, scrambled eggs: Serve with avocado toast for a well-rounded breakfast.
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