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 swerve 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 eggplats 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 re-inventing 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 ganoush).
- 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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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! Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish, this recipe is a new favorite in our kitchen and will be in yours too!
- 2 eggplants (small-medium long ones)
- 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot flour
- Brown rice, cooked (optional; for serving)
For the sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons liquid aminos
- 2 Tablespoons Mirin (can substitute with 1 Tablespoon of Rice Vinegar)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon Arrowroot flour
- ¼ teaspoon dried ginger (can substitute with 1 teaspoon minced)
- 2 & ½ teaspoons coconut sugar
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
For serving: (optional)
- Green onions, sliced
- Sesame seeds
- Lime juice
- Water chestnuts
- Clean and cut the eggplant into small cubes. Transfer them to a large bowl, sprinkle with arrowroot flour and set aside.
- Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.
- Heat sesame oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and roast for one minute, stirring often. Add the eggplant to the pan. Tossing the eggplant every minute or two, pan-fry for 5-8 minutes. Once the skin is browned and the inside of the eggplant has softened. Remove from heat.
- Stir the sauce again so that the arrowroot flour and ginger powder are completely dissolved. Pour the sauce over the eggplant, toss to combine. Heat for an additional 1-3 minutes so the sauce thickens. Remove and serve immediately over rice.
- Garnish the eggplant with green onions, sesame seeds and any additional toppings of your choice.
- Serve with brown rice and protein of choice. Our favorite protein to pair this with is FfL’s Firecracker Honey Glazed Meatballs.