I am a big lover of eggplant. I have been cooking it in so many ways over the years, and still love it. I am never sick of it. This is a very simple and a traditional Shanghai home cooked side dish. Every family in Shanghai has their own way to cook it and uses the exact same ingredients. The woman in Shanghai who is the best cook for this dish is very special – she is my mum. So I believe the best seasoning in the world is memories.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (76 votes)


  • 500 g Japanese eggplant (also known as Lebanese) 
  • 100 ml oil
  • 1 long red chilli, roughly cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, bruised
  • 200 ml water
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cut or snap the eggplants into 5 cm pieces. Heat the oil in a wok until shimmering. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for 20–30 seconds. Remove the chilli and reserve.

Add the eggplant and gently stir-fry. When the eggplant has soaked up all of the oil, add 1 tbsp of the water. Keep adding water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the eggplant is soft and you have used around half of the water.

Stir in the dark soy sauce and sugar then add the remaining water. Cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute. Remove the lid; the liquid should be absorbed. Return the chilli to the wok, toss for 30 seconds and serve.


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