This is not a recipe that you can get from Chinese takeout. This authentic Chinese eggplant salad dish in garlic sauce is incredibly flavorful and easy to make. All you need to do is steam some seasonal eggplant until tender, then bathe it in a savory and refreshing garlic sauce. You will be blown away at how delicious eggplant can become with just a few ingredients.

A bowl of eggplants with garlic sauce topped with cilantro, garlic and soybean paste.

This is a very nostalgic dish that my grandma used to make for me when I was a kid. It was much saltier than my adapted recipe here, but I loved eating it with rice, congee or anything plain that let its flavor shine through.

Then my dad adapted it when they came to visit from China. It is such a simple recipe, almost like a eggplant salad for a better of a word. You just need to steam or microwave the eggplant then pour the garlic sauce right on over top, there is no intense cooking process here.

Now I am sharing this vibrant and refreshing eggplant dish bursting with herby, savory, and slightly sweet notes. a simple and yet elegant dish that can be served as a side or even a main course for vegetarians.

A bowl of eggplants with garlic sauce topped with cilantro, garlic and soybean paste.

Ingredients for Chinese Garlic Eggplant

Eggplants, the star of this dish, are in season between July and October. The most commonly seen eggplants in the grocery stores are Globe Eggplants and Graffiti Eggplants at many seaonal farmers’ markets. You can choose any of your favorite eggplants.

Soybean Paste 豆瓣酱 also called Doenjang is a type of fermented bean paste of soybean. The most popular type originated from Korean cuisine. There are also a few delicious ones I had growing up in China. But any soybean paste that are available to you will work for this recipe.

It is much more flavorful and concentrated than soy sauce. So soy sauce can not be substituted one to one ratio for this dish.

Sesame Oil is the oil from sesame oil which has a nutty and earthy taste. It is very commonly used in many Chinese cuisines. The the flavor is very distinct and strong, so we only need a very small quantity here.

Minced Garlic is also the co-star for this recipe in my opinion. Since the chopped garlic here is raw, it has a strong, pungent taste and flavor. But don’t worry, the sauce will mellow that strong odor and add more layers of flavor to make a beautiful flavor symphony.

Fresh Cilantro is another ingredient in this recipe that provides a pungent and distinctly herby taste. It can be lemony, peppery, and earthy. It provides that bright flavor to this recipe that will make it pop!

How to Make Simple Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

Prepare the Eggplants:

It’s not necessary to peel the skin of the eggplants especially if the skin is thin and soft. But depending on the type of eggplants you have, the skin might be tougher and thicker. Then you can remove them.

Whip up the Sauce:

Bring it all together:

There you have it!

How To Spice Up the Chinese Garlic Eggplant Dish

Adding in some Sriracha into your sauce will pump up the heat in this dish. You can put as much or as little as you’d like! Red pepper flakes also will add some spice if you do not have any Sriracha on hand.

Minced fresh ginger would also work in this dish. Ginger is a very common ingredient found in Asian dishes and it lends a brightness to any savory dish!

Gochujang is another chili paste you could use to spice up your garlic sauce as well. I love the one you can get from Trader Joes, it is kept in the refrigerated section and it comes in handy when you want a little extra something in your savory dishes.

A bowl of eggplants with garlic sauce topped with cilantro, garlic and soybean paste.

Tips For “Steaming” Eggplants

You do not want to over steam your veggies, whether it is eggplant or otherwise. You can end up with a mushy and messy result if you overdo it.

If you choose to steam the eggplants in a pot using a steamer basket, start with 7 – 8 minutes.

To ensure the eggplants are steamed evenly, do not overcrowd them. If you are unsure if your veggies are done, make sure you can easily pierce the vegetables with a fork but not so easily that the vegetables become soggy.

Another method that I like to use is to microwave the eggplants. I learned this method from my dad. This is a more simple and quick method. All you need is to cut the eggplants into quarters, cover then microwave on high for 4 – 5 minutes (depending on how many eggplants you are cooking at once).

The eggplants should be soft enough to pull apart with your hands but not mushy or with no structure left.

Wait until the eggplants cool down before you touch them though!

How to Store The Leftover Chinese Garlic Eggplant

Listen up! Leftover Garlic Eggplant salad is the BEST!

The eggplants and garlic will continue to soak up all the flavors.

There is actually another Chinese dish called “Suan Qie Zi” 蒜茄子 which translates to Garlic Eggplants. It is a very similar recipe but it calls for a much longer marinating. So you get super flavorful and much more salty results.

So the leftovers are more flavorful and can be enjoyed cold or warm.

Storing your leftover Chinese Garlic Eggplant in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days is the best way to keep it.


A bowl of eggplants with garlic sauce topped with cilantro, garlic and soybean paste.

Get the recipe:Chinese Eggplant in Garlic Sauce {5 Ingredients}

This Chinese eggplant salad in garlic sauce only calls for 5 ingredients and no cooking is required. It is so flavorful and delicious.
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  • 2-3 Eggplants, ~500g
  • 1 heaping tbsp Soybean Paste
  • 2 tbsp Filtered Water
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly packed


  • Cut the Eggplant in half or quarters. Steam for 7-8 minutes or microwave for 5 minutes, until tender to poke through with a fork/chopstick.
  • Remove from the heat and let it cool while prepping for the sauce.
  • In a bowl, mix together the soybean paste and water to dilute it.
  • Then add in sesame oil, minced garlic and chopped cilantro.
  • For best result, let the sauce sit for 20 minutes.
  • Once the eggplants have cooled, pull them into thinner or smaller pieces with hands. You can also use a knife for this step.
  • Pour the sauce across the eggplants evenly. Enjoy!

The Nutrition Facts above are specific to the ingredients I chose to use for this recipe, which may vary.