In this vegan, Szechuan-inspired dish, eggplants and tofu are cooked in a spicy garlic and ginger-infused sauce that will make anyone an eggplant lover.
I know some of you are probably tired of seeing eggplant here. Eggplant recipes appear on this blog so often that I could probably change the name to FatFree Eggplant Recipes.
But there’s a reason for that: I love eggplant! I think it’s one of the most versatile vegetables around. If you’ve been avoiding it because you’re afraid you won’t like it, I think it’s time you gave it a try. And this is the recipe you should try. It’s so good that even eggplant haters (like my daughter) like it.
If you’re eggplant-phobic, do as I did and find some smaller, light purple or white eggplants, like the ones in the photo on this page. They are usually denser, less spongy, and less bitter than the larger eggplants.
In this recipe, the eggplants are peeled, which makes the texture more appealing to eggplant virgins, but you can also use Japanese eggplants with the skin on. They get soft rather than chewy, so be prepared for that before you chow down. Take a moment to savor the aroma of garlic, ginger, and sesame and then dig in. You will not fear eggplant anymore!
Eggplant and Tofu in Spicy Garlic Sauce
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu not silken
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce reduced sodium
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil* (see notes)
- 4 small eggplants about 1-1/2 pounds total, peeled and sliced into strips 2-inches long, 1-inch wide, and 1/4-inch thick (or use one large eggplant)
- 1/3 cup water
- 6-8 garlic cloves minced (about 2 tbsp.)
- 1 inch peeled fresh ginger grated
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce tamari, or coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon dark sesame oil (see notes)
- 1/2-1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener
- 1/2-1 teaspoon hot chili sauce or paste available in Asian markets
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tomato coarsely chopped
- sprinkling of sesame seeds for garnish optional
- Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and press them lightly between towels to get some of the moisture out. Combine the 3 tbsp. soy sauce with the 2 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. Dip each slice of tofu into the mixture and set on a plate.
- Heat an oiled, non-stick skillet until hot. Place the tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Turn over and brown the other sides. When the tofu is completely browned on both sides, remove it from the skillet and place it on a cutting board. Cut each slice into 8-10 cubes. Set aside.
- Heat an oiled, non-stick wok and add the eggplant and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring often, until eggplant begins to brown. Uncover and add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.
- While the eggplant is cooking, make the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, combine the 3/4 cup vegetable broth or water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sweetener, chili sauce, and tomato paste.
- Add the sauce to the eggplant. Simmer uncovered until all the eggplant slices are completely cooked–they will be very soft and start to fall apart. Add the tofu cubes and tomato and cook until heated through. Serve over rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds if desired.
Reduce the sodium by using water instead of broth, regular rice vinegar instead of seasoned, and reduced sodium soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce.
*Sesame oil gives this dish its authentic Szechuan flavor. You can leave it out, but the taste won't be the same, so I recommend reducing it rather than eliminating. The nutritional data below includes the full amount of sesame oil.
Want More Eggplant?
Check out the other eggplant recipes on this blog? There’s a whole section of them!
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