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Recipe: Steamed Eggplant – Hunan Style

A basket of long purple eggplant with a purple flower

Steamed Eggplant – Hunan Style

From Eric Hsu, staff member at Chanticleer Garden, adapted from The Woks of Life

Steaming is not an approach many consider using when cooking eggplant, but the texture and consistency of the finished product is delectable and adaptable to the sauce below or simply being dressed with a little chili oil and soy sauce or miso.

Serves about 4 to 6


  • 2 to 3 Chinese or Japanese eggplants*
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon roasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons homemade hot chili oil (bottled chili oil is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce**
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped long hot green peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small Thai bird chili, chopped (optional)
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped

*Choose fruits that do not have bruised and blemished skin and are firm to touch. I have not used Italian eggplants, although sources inform me that the flavor is less delicate than Chinese or Japanese eggplant varieties.

**Tamari can be used in place of soy sauce for those sensitive to gluten and sodium. I’ve used it in place of soy sauce without any compromise to any flavors.


Cut eggplants into 3-inch pieces and then cut them into quarters lengthwise. Arrange vertically in a metal steamer.

Prepare wok or large covered pot for steaming by pouring enough water to reach just below, but not touching, the metal steamer.

Steam the eggplant for 10-15 minutes (the larger or thicker the quartered pieces are, the longer it will take) until the texture is soft and “custardy.” (You want it to be soft, but not so soft that the pieces disintegrate when pierced; use a knife or cake tester to test the cooked state.)

Transfer steamed eggplant to a serving plate, making sure to include any liquid from the steamed eggplant.

Heat the canola and sesame oil in a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat and add the fresh ginger and sesame seeds. Lower the heat to medium-low.

Meanwhile, mix together hot chili oil, sesame paste, soy sauce, salt, and sugar; 15-20 seconds after adding ginger and sesame seeds, stir in the hot chili oil mixture. Do not stir or pour in fast, as the mixture will burn and caramelize quickly.

Once the sauce begins to simmer, turn off the heat and stir in the finely chopped peppers, garlic, and half of the scallions. Add the Thai bird chili only if you like your food extremely spicy.

Pour the sauce over the eggplant, carefully mix, and dress with scallions. Serve.