1-2teaspoonsginger,peeled and grated on a microplane zester (or minced)
1tablespoonsambal, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or 1 red chili pepper, finely diced
2tablespoonsregular or dark soy sauce(use tamari for gluten-free)
1tablespoonchinkiang vinegar or balsamic vinegar(see notes)
2teaspoonsgranulated sugaror to taste; see notes
Slice off the ends of the eggplant, then slice each eggplant crosswise into into thirds. Slice each piece in half lengthwise, then place the flat sides down and make a few additional lengthwise slices to create thick, long pieces (see post photos for reference).
Heat a skillet (nonstick or cast iroor wok over medium-high heat, then add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring or tossing periodically, until the color has changed and the flesh is soft but not mushy, 2-4 minutes.
Push the eggplant aside. If the pan seems dry, you can add some or all of the remaining oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallion (note: if using diced red chili pepper, add it here as well). Stir the aromatics separately from the eggplant for about 30-60 seconds, until fragrant and soft, then toss with the eggplant for another 30 seconds.
Add the sambal, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, stirring to combine with the other ingredients. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has just thickened up, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
Eggplant Substitutions: I typically find Chinese eggplant at H-Mart, my closest asian grocery store. If you can't find it, you can still make this recipe. Any variety of eggplant will technically work, but I recommend using smaller varieties with thinner skin like baby or fairy tale eggplant.Soy Sauce & Vinegar Substitutions: Many Chinese eggplant recipes call for dark soy sauce and chinkiang vinegar. I wouldn't necessarily recommend purchasing either for this recipe alone if you don't think you’ll have other uses for them.Chinkiang vinegar has a depth and sweetness reminiscent of balsamic vinegar, which is why I’ve recommended it as a substitute. Rice vinegar is not a good substitute. If using balsamic, you might want to cut the sugar down to 1 teaspoon (balsamic is slightly sweeter than Chinkiang vinegar). I used Gold Plum Chinkiang Vinegar.Either regular or dark soy sauce will work in this recipe, but dark soy sauce is traditional. I use Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce.