Eggplant seems to be a divisive vegetable. People are either passionate eggplant lovers or haters. I definitely fall in the lover category and this easy Steamed Eggplant is one of my favorites. Steaming eggplant renders the flesh really lush and tender, and then I pair it with a piquant sauce made from pantry ingredients you already have on hand. This is the little black dress of sides; it goes with anything and everything, so let’s get into it.
Give Eggplant a Chance
The reason that many people dislike eggplant is because it can be a little bitter and seedy. Well friends, I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the case. Yes globe eggplants, the ones you see in all American grocery stores, tend to be stronger in flavor, with thick skins and often bitter flesh. But, there are all kinds of eggplants out there. And if you’ve never had Chinese eggplant before, you need to try it out before you disparage all eggplants.
How is it so different you ask? Let me count the ways… First, Chinese eggplant has very thin skin- there’s no need to peel it. Second, it’s very slender and the flesh cooks up very quickly. Third, it has fewer, smaller seeds so you won’t even notice them when you’re eating. Finally, the flesh is kind of sweet and silky. So have I sold you yet?
Although I use Chinese eggplant for this recipe, there are plenty of other eggplants you can use too. If you have a local farmers market, try something that looks good. You’ll see white ones, green ones, and striped eggplant as well. Not sure, ask the farmers. They know! I find that in general, any slender eggplant will be more tender and have fewer seeds. A couple years ago, everyone was growing these beautiful, tiny lavender ones called fairy eggplant. Nothing thrills me more than spotting new produce!
Chinese eggplant can easily be found at most Asian grocers, but if you can’t find any, I have included instructions for standard globe eggplant in the notes. Look for shiny, deeply purple (not brownish), firm eggplant with fresh looking leaves. If you’re buying the large globe eggplant, look for smaller ones with a round dimpled end (male) rather than the dash (female). Eggplants don’t actually have genders but they are from cross pollinating seeds that are male and female. The male eggplant are less seedy and more meaty than the females. When you cut into the eggplant, seeds that are pale and not a dark brown color, will indicate freshness as well.
Making the Dish
This dish is super fast, making it a great option when you are pressed for time and just need to get something quick on the table. It’s also fully cooked in the microwave so you won’t need to turn on the stove or wash any pans.
Let the eggplant cool while you make the sauce. This sauce takes just a couple minutes to make, but it is powerfully flavorful. Toasted sesame oil adds a nutty depth and oyster sauce thickens everything up so it clings to the eggplant. When you make this sauce, you’ll probably think it’s not enough. And once you pour it on, it will be just enough to coat the eggplant. But then in a couple minutes, the eggplant will start to weep, and you’ll be surprised at how saucy it’s become!
Once the eggplant has cooled down enough to handle, quickly tear it into bite sized pieces. I prefer this technique over cutting it with a knife as the jagged edges absorb the sauce better.
Now all that’s left to do is dress the eggplant. This dish is great either warm or at room temperature. The eggplant will continue to absorb the flavors of the dressing as it sits.
Put the steamed eggplant on a serving plate and garnish with the reserved scallions and sesame seeds.
Steamed Eggplant makes a delicious side for:
I hope you enjoy this super fast and healthy side as much as I do. Try it this week and let me know; comment on the recipe below and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 1 ¼ pound Chinese Eggplant (about 4 medium)
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, minced and divided
- 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Wash and trim the stem of the eggplant. Cut the eggplant crosswise into 3 logs and then cut the logs in half lengthwise.
- Put the eggplant in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 5 minutes. Set the eggplant aside to cool.
- While the eggplant is cooling, make the sauce.
- Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, scallions (reserving a teaspoon for garnish), and cilantro in a bowl and stir to combine.
- When the eggplant has cooled enough to handle, use your hands to tear it into smaller strips. Discard any liquid and put the eggplant back into the bowl.
- Gently mix the eggplant to combine and then mound it onto a plate.
- Sprinkle with reserved scallions and sesame seeds. Serve steamed eggplant warm or room temperature.
*If you prefer to steam your eggplant traditionally:
Set up your steamer by adding several cups of water to the bottom pot and bringing the pot to a boil over high heat.
Place the eggplant into the steamer basket and steam on high, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes until tender (a fork should easily pierce it). Set aside until the eggplant is cool enough to handle.
Keywords: eggplant, healthy , healthy sides, chinese