Every time I’m in Shanghai, there’s one dish I absolutely have to have and that’s the eggplant dish from Shanghai Grandmother’s Restaurant. The tender eggplant pieces in the sweet, sticky sauce it’s smothered in is something I’d liken to fall-off-the-bone slow cooked ribs…but vegan!! Unfortunately, I cannot hop on a plane to Shanghai every time I crave this dish, so instead, I attempted to recreate it at home, and I must say, I came pretty close!
- 2 eggplants, sliced into imperfect bite-size pieces. If you’re able to get your hands on Chinese eggplants (longer and skinnier), this is ideal, but if not, your standard grocery store globe eggplant will suffice.
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp corn flour or corn starch
- 2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp of Sriracha
- 2 tbsp chili sauce
- 1 tsp of white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp of black pepper
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- Spread the sliced eggplant out on a paper towel. Sprinkle salt over top and allow to rest for 45-60 minutes to draw moisture out of the eggplant, thus giving you a more crispy and less mushy final result.
- Pat the eggplant dry (without rinsing), transfer to a big bowl, and sprinkle with the corn flour or corn starch. Give it a mix with your hands to ensure each piece of eggplant is evenly coated with with a thin layer.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat.
- Spread eggplant across the bottom of the skillet without overlapping. This will likely mean you’ll need to do 2 batches, depending on the size of your skillet. If you’re impatient (like me), have 2 separate skillets going on 2 different elements at the same time (each with 2 tablespoons of oil).
- Cook one side at a time until all the surfaces of your eggplant are crisp and brown on the outside and soft on the inside, approximately 10 minutes in total.
- While your eggplant is cooking, mix the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, chili sauce, white vinegar, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Once the eggplant is tender (test a piece to be sure), transfer it to a plate, then add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of oil, minced ginger, and minced garlic into the same skillet.
- After 1 minute, add the eggplant back into the skillet along with the bowl of sauce.
- Give everything a quick stir to fully coat the eggplant.
- Serve as a side dish or make it a main over rice, and enjoy!
-If you don’t have dark soy sauce you can substitute it with a mixture of 1/3 regular soy sauce, 1/3 molasses, and 1/3 water.
-If you plan on eating the eggplant over rice, double the sauce ingredients so you have plenty extra to drizzle over the rice.