This Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant recipe is full of flavor and very easy to make. It’s naturally vegan + paleo + gluten-free and takes less than 20 minutes to make!

Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant on a white plate with chopsticks.

Oh hello, you saucy little Asian eggplant-y bites. Welcome to my plate. Hope you don't mind if we skip the small talk and get right down to business. You're simply too sweet and delicious looking to wait a minute longer.

How do you guys even put up with me talking to my food as if I'm about to make out with it? I think I've just crossed some crazy food blogger chick line. Sorry 'bout dat. {And thanks for not hitting the road at the first sign of me sweet talking an Asian eggplant recipe.}

Let me guess, right now you're thinking that:

1.    Eggplant is weird/strange/scary/wtf

2.   Eggplant is eff-off delicious/awesome/you need it more in your life

Here's the thing: you're right! All of you. {And no I'm not doing that urban hippie teacher thing where everyone gets a passing mark.}

It's just that eggplant is all of those things. It is kind of weird and strange, in a good weird and strange kind of way. It's also kind of scary and wtf when it absorbs all 20 liters of oil you give it a chance (you don't actually have to give it 20 liters of oil) and goes all limp and funny looking.

But … it's also super awesomely delicious, and you totally need more of it in your life.

This Asian eggplant recipe braises the eggplant with some Asian flavors for a few minutes before being coated in an easy to make sweet and spicy sauce. It's a simple side dish that has tons of flavor.

Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant

In this recipe, the Asian eggplant is braised in some stock with ginger, garlic and Sichuan pepper. Braising is really just a fancy pants word for cooking in liquid. Normally, braise is a term allocated to meat (hello crockpot!), but you can braise veggies too.

When I'm making Asian eggplant, I like to braise it as it cuts down on the amount of fat you need. Eggplant sucks up fat like nobody's business, and it's a great way to reduce some of those pesky calories but still keep all the taste. Win win!

Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant

If you're looking at the ingredients and wondering what the heck Sichuan pepper is, where you can buy it, and what the heck you can sub for it 'cause you don't feel like running your butt all over town to look for it (I hear ya!), here's the thing:

Sichuan pepper is commonly used in the Sichuan province in China – surprise surprise! – Although it is also used in many other places such as Nepal, Bhutan, and India. Despite its name, it is not similar to chilies or black pepper.

Sichuan pepper has a slightly lemony taste and (if you eat a lot of it) will give you a funny, tingling, buzzing sort of feeling in your mouth. Truth: I haven't tried eating a lot of it to see if that happens, but that's what I've read.

You can buy Sichuan pepper at Asian markets or here on Amazon. While there's no real substitute for Sichuan peppers, and you could simply leave them out of the recipe, you can also substitute half black pepper with half lemon zest or sumac. It won't be quite the same, but it will still be very good.

Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant

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Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant

Sweet and Spicy Asian Eggplant

  • Author: Kristen Stevens
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: Asian


This easy to make Asian eggplant recipe is full of flavour. It's naturally vegan + paleo + gluten free and takes less than 20 minutes to make!



  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 medium onion, julienned
  • 3 long eggplants (about 2 lb. total), quartered and cut into 3-inch spears
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  • 1 cup stock, divided
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or coco aminos for paleo)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar (or sub rice vinegar or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch (or tapioca starch for paleo)
  • Chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish


  1. Heat the oil and sesame oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add the eggplant, ginger, garlic and Sichuan pepper and stir together. Pour 3/4 cup of the stock over top and cover the pan. Let the eggplant braise for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
  2. In a small bowl mix the remaining 1/4 cup of water with the soy sauce or coco aminos, garlic chili sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, honey, and corn or tapioca starch.
  3. Once the eggplant is soft, pour the mixture in the small bowl over top and mix well. Let the sauce cook and thicken for 1 minute.
  4. Remove the eggplant from the heat, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and sesame seeds and serve immediately.