This is all my brother’s fault. He was raving about the Sichuan Chinese chicken and eggplant with garlic sauce that he had at a local restaurant. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and I already had the eggplant (bought to make eggplant parmesan), so I figured I would give it a try. This will also, incidentally, work with beef.
This recipe is adapted from The New York Times. It originally called for minced garlic, soybean paste, and hot chili paste. I had the garlic, but not the other ingredients, so I improvised. I replaced the soybean paste with hoisin sauce, and used chili garlic sauce instead of the garlic and chili paste. Doing that also saved me an extra step (no garlic to chop). I reduced the water a bit to compensate. That recipe also called for ground pork (which I didn’t have because I’d eaten the last of it with my black beans, so I used chicken instead).
Eggplant is notorious for soaking up oil. There are several schools of thought about preparing eggplant in order to minimize this.
Some insist you have to salt it and let it sit (to draw out the water) and dry it with a paper towel and let it sit for 45 minutes. Others say to put it in water, salt the water, cover that with a lid or a heavy weight, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain, and dry it off.
A third way (which I just learned, and wouldn’t necessarily do for Chinese food), is to soak the eggplant in milk.
I tend to use the first method, but I confess I usually don’t wait that long. I’m too impatient (and hungry). I get around it by slicing the eggplant very thin.
If you want your eggplant extra crispy, dredge it in cornstarch before you cook it.
Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Why bother with takeout when you can make Sichuan Chicken in your own home? Flavored with ginger, chili garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce, it only takes a few minutes and it's much cheaper too.
8-12 thin slices of eggplant
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tsp potato starch or corn starch
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/4 tsp hoisin sauce
2 T neutral oil
1 chicken thigh
Slice the eggplant and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle it with a bit of salt, toss everything together and let it sit while you go on to the next step.
In a separate, small bowl, make the sauce. Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, and starch (potato or corn) until the starch dissolves. Add the water, chili garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce.
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan or wok.
Slice the meat off the chicken thigh (if you are using bone-in), or cut into strips if you have a boneless thigh (I always get the bone-in, toss the bone in the pan first, let it cook a few minutes longer than the rest, and save it for stock).
Cook the chicken for 5 minutes. Once it's done, transfer it to a plate while you cook the eggplant.
Dry the eggplant with a paper towel.
Add the remaining oil to the pan. When it gets hot, add the eggplant slices.
Cook, stirring, and turning the eggplant occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it's brown and slightly crispy.
Now add the sauce. Cook another minute or so, then add the chicken back to the pan.
Raise the heat to high and bring the entire thing to a boil. Let that cook for a minute or two.
Serve with rice on the side.
Ingredients and Tools to Make Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Lee Kum Hoisin Sauce
Sweet, slightly tangy and great for this dish, as well as marinades. Try it with a simple pork roast, sliced and served with steamed bread and scallions. Or, marinate fish with garlic, hoisin, and five spice powder. It’s also great in stir fries.
Chili Garlic Sauce
In case you haven’t guessed (since I keep mentioning it), I love this stuff. It’s got more heat than sriracha (which has sugar), plus the extra flavor boost from garlic. I put it on eggs, in marinades, stir-fries, veggies, enchiladas, soup. Someone on Amazon mentioned mixing it with some plum sauce and cooking it with chicken. I’m going to try that next!
If you want to be authentic, get the chili paste. Use it for this recipe, or for making Thai or Indonesian recipes. It makes a great starting base for marinades and sauces. Mix it into meatloaf or top some scrambled eggs. Think of it as sriracha with more kick.
More Asian Chicken Recipes
Honey Sticky Garlic Chicken
Crispy, sweet, and spicy all at once. And, the sauce is made entirely from pantry ingredients you already have in your home.
Singapore Noodles with Chicken
Toss veggies, turmeric, curry (yes curry), chicken and noodles all together and make this colorful and delicious meal. A great way to clean out the fridge or use up those extra little bits of frozen veggies.
Stir Fry Chicken with Peanut Sauce
An easy way to get takeout without leaving home. Crisp-fried veggies, tender chicken, and a smooth, velvety sauce over it all.
Asian Chicken Salad with Cabbage
Colorful, spicy and just the thing for a hot day, or when your appetite isn’t quite right. It’s a carnival of color and flavor, brightened by lots of crispy veggies, ginger, garlic, and a touch of sriracha.