That Spicy Chick

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Fish-Fragrant Eggplant)

This Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Fish-Fragrant Eggplant when literally translated) is a Sichuan style chili garlic eggplant dish. Eggplant strips are pan-fried until tender, then stir-fried with aromatics, ground pork, and tender cloud ear mushrooms in a mouthwatering spicy, sweet, and sour sauce! It’s easy to make on any given weeknight, exploding with flavor, and incredibly delicious with a bowl of steamed rice!

Yu Xiang Eggplant, ground pork, cloud ear mushrooms, and aromatics stir-fry in a white round serving dish. Black chopsticks to the right side of the dish and two steamed white rice bowls above the serving dish.

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (鱼香茄子 – Fish-Fragrant Eggplant) is happening today guys. And that means today is a very delicious day! 😋

Contrary to what you might think, this dish has got nothing to do with any fish related ingredients. It simply got its name from the style it’s cooked in. You see, the aromatics, sauce, and style of cooking involved are the same for a particular Sichuan style fish dish. So, they decided to name this eggplant dish with the “Yu Xiang” (which literally translates = fish-fragrant) preceding the “Qie Zi” (eggplant).

But at its core, Yu Xiang Eggplant is essentially a Sichuan chili garlic eggplant stir-fry. In fact, Chili Garlic Eggplant is what it is commonly called on Chinese restaurant menus in the States and elsewhere because people are more likely to order it than something that has “fish-fragrant” in the title of an eggplant dish!

This recipe is a mash up on the classic Yu Xiang Eggplant and Yu Xiang Pork. (But you can totally make it vegetarian/vegan by simply just leaving out the pork. Check out the Variations section below for other meat and protein substitutes!) It was inspired by two of my favorite dishes that I get for takeout from my local neighborhood Sichuan restaurant, and it tastes absolutely delicious with some warm steamed white rice!

It’s also a wonderful Sichuan dinner treat, great for busy weeknights, and can easily be made at home. Bonus? It’s lightened-up a bit because I pan-fry the eggplant strips first instead of deep fry them like they traditionally do to make this dish. 🙌 And you know what guys? I think you’re going to love this recipe and all of its tantalizing flavors! 😍

Let’s jump in and make this tasty Yu Xiang Eggplant stir-fry! 🤗

Eggplant cut into three inch strips soaking in a stainless steel bowl with water.

INGREDIENTS

Alright! First up is our shopping list for this mouthwatering Yu Xiang Eggplant. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Eggplant: You can use either a Chinese or Japanese eggplant. Chinese eggplants tend to be longer and slimmer that the typical eggplant you see in the supermarkets in the States. Taste wise, they are not bitter like your typical eggplant, but have a sweet and mild flavor instead. They also also have less seeds. Look for this in your local Chinatown or Asian grocery store. If you live in Asia, you can find this in your local supermarket and wet market.
  • Aromatics: Just some garlic, ginger, red chilies, and spring onion. Use as many (or as little) chilies you like based on your heat level preference. You can also opt to deseed them if you want to make this dish milder.
  • Dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms: These are Asian mushrooms that resemble ears in appearance (hence the name). They belong to the Auriculariaceae family, and have a tender, rubbery, and chewy texture. They very popular in Chinese and Sichuan cuisine. Look for dried cloud ear mushrooms in packages in Asian grocery stores in the US and UK. Or you can purchase them online. In Asia, you can find fresh and dried versions of cloud ears in your local supermarket and wet market.
  • Dried Red Chilies: Just a few for some extra heat! I break them into small pieces so that they can release their spicy oils into the wok. But you can omit or deseed them to make this dish milder.
  • Ground/minced or shredded Pork (optional): Feel free to omit the pork if making this vegetarian/vegan. If you’re not a pork person, simply swap for ground chicken, turkey, lamb, or even ground beef. Or, if making this vegetarian, you can try a plant-based ground beef product such as Beyond Beef from Beyond Meat.
  • Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Sauce/Paste, also known as Toban Djan or Doubanjiang): This is the key ingredient in this Sichuan dish! It is essentially a chili sauce/paste that’s made with broad beans. It has a spicy, salty, and slightly sour flavor. Although authentic Pixian Dou Ban Jiang is preferred, Lee Kum Kee brand Chili Bean Sauce will work perfectly fine too. 👌 In fact, the latter is more commonly available in the States and in other countries outside of China. It is what I used to make this dish.
  • For the Sauce: A quick and easy combination of low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese black vinegar), dark soy sauce, and sesame oil.
  • White Sugar: Just two or three teaspoons to balance out the heat from the chilies and chili bean sauce!
  • Corn Starch slurry: To help thicken the sauce. Mix one tablespoon of corn starch with ½ cup water to make this. Be sure to mix the slurry again with a spoon just before adding into the wok because the corn starch will separate and settle at the bottom.
  • Oils (for cooking): I use peanut oil for cooking here, but you can use any other cooking oil with a high burning point such as avocado oil. I also use sesame oil and chili oil to add plenty of extra flavor to the dish! But the latter is optional, and can be omitted if you are making this dish milder.
  • Rice: For serving. You can use white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or even cauliflower rice if you prefer!
hand holding up two pieces of rehydrated wood ear mushrooms above a stainless steel bowl with water and rehydrated wood ear mushrooms.

HOW TO MAKE YU XIANG EGGPLANT

To make this delicious stir-fry, we’ll start with the prep work first so that the actual stir-fry goes by in a breeze. First..

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Mince the garlic and ginger and chop the fresh red chilies and spring onion. Separate the whites and green parts of the spring onion as they will be added to the wok at different times. Slice the eggplant into 3-inch strips. Add them to a bowl of water and soak for 15-20 minutes. Then drain into colander or a fine mesh strainer and set aside. (Note: Soaking the eggplant strips in water makes them less prone to absorbing oil like sponges. It enables us to get away with pan-frying instead of deep frying them first.)
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl or measuring cup (the latter will make it easier to pour into the wok). Mix with a spoon to thoroughly combine, then set aside.
  3. Boil the mushrooms: Soak the cloud ear mushrooms in a bowl of water for 20 minutes to rehydrate. Then drain and rinse thoroughly. Then heat water over high heat in a small pot until boiling. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and boil for 3-5 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse the mushrooms thoroughly again (the water from the pot will be dirty). Set aside.
  4. Make the corn starch slurry: Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl or measuring cup (for easier pouring). Mix until combined and a slurry has formed, then set aside.
  5. Cook the rice: Cook the rice according to package instructions and set aside. (If using a rice cooker, you can leave it to cook while you make the eggplant stir-fry.)

Now that we’ve got everything prepped and good to go, we can make the Yu Xiang Eggplant stir-fry and have dinner on the table in just a few minutes!

Pan-fry the eggplant: Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, turn the heat down to medium-high and add the eggplant strips. Cook for 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally, until slightly browned and tender. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Return the wok back to the stovetop.

Eggplant strips softening and browning slightly in a wok on the stovetop.

Sauté aromatics: Heat the remainder peanut oil, sesame oil, and chili oil (if using). Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, and spring onion whites. Stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Then add the red chilies and stir-fry for another minute to combine.

Cook the pork & add the Chili Bean Paste: Next, add the ground pork and the Dou Ban Jiang on top. Cook and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, breaking the lumps as you go, until the pork is no longer pink and everything is combined.

Ground pork being cooked and tossed with chili bean paste and aromatics in a black wok on the stovetop.

Combine everything and toss: Add the dried red chilies and the mushrooms. Toss briefly to combine, then add the eggplant strips and pour the sauce you made earlier over everything. Season with sugar and toss to combine.

Thicken the sauce: Then give the corn starch slurry a quick stir with a spoon (the corn starch will have settled at the bottom) and pour it into the wok. Stir-fry for a minute or two, or until the sauce has thickened.

Add spring onion greens: Add the spring onion greens and stir-fry briefly for 10 seconds to combine, then switch off the heat.

Yu Xiang Eggplant, ground pork, cloud ear mushrooms, and aromatics being stir-fried in a wok on the stovetop.

Serve!: Transfer to a serving dish and and serve immediately with the warm steamed rice.

Full ingredient amounts/instruction in the recipe card below.

Black chopsticks holding up a sauce coated eggplant strip above a round white dish with Yu Xiang Eggplant. Two bowls of steamed white rice in the back.

VARIATIONS

  • A note on Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Paste): This recipe is based on using a Cantonese style Dou Ban Jiang – Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce. The taste will be slightly different if using a Taiwanese, Japanese, or Pixian Dou Ban Jiang. If using Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang, you may need to only add 1-2 tablespoons of the paste as it is quite salty and more spicy. In addition, you may need to reduce the amount of soy sauce.
  • Make it vegetarian/vegan: Simply omit the minced pork and add only 1-2 tablespoons of Dou Ban Jiang on top of the aromatics. Stir-fry to combine for a minute, then follow steps 4-7 as indicated in the instructions. Also, use ½ cup dried cloud ear mushrooms to make up for the difference in quantity if omitting the pork.
  • Make it gluten-free: Double check that your Dou Ban Jiang doesn’t have any ingredients with gluten in it. Also, use a gluten-free soy sauce and gluten-free dark soy sauce.
  • Use a different protein: Don’t like pork? No problem! Leave it out, or swap for ground chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef! You can also try making it with a ground Beyond Meat (a plant-based meat product) – Beyond Beef.
Black chopsticks holding up a sauce coated eggplant strip and Yu Xiang Eggplant stir-fry with ground pork and cloud ear mushrooms in a round white serving bowl.

MORE EASY WEEKNIGHT STIR-FRIES

Looking for more delicious weeknight Asian stir-fries? Below are my all-time favorites that are on the regular rotation!


If you make this recipe, leave a comment and review it below with a star rating! Take a photo and be sure to tag it with @thatspicychick on Instagram and hashtag it #thatspicychick so I can see! 😉

If you like this recipe, please share it around. Your support means the world to me. 🤗

Print
Yu Xiang Eggplant, ground pork, cloud ear mushrooms, and aromatics stir-fry in a white round serving dish. Black chopsticks to the right side of the dish and two steamed white rice bowls above the serving dish.

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Fish-Fragrant Eggplant)

This Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Fish-Fragrant Eggplant when literally translated) is a Sichuan style chili garlic eggplant dish. Eggplant strips are pan-fried until tender, then stir-fried with aromatics, ground pork, and tender cloud ear mushrooms in a mouthwatering spicy, sweet, and sour sauce! It’s easy to make on any given weeknight, exploding with flavor, and incredibly delicious with a bowl of steamed rice!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 56 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Sichuan, Chinese
Scale

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

For the Yu Xiang Eggplant:

  • 1 (345-375 grams) Chinese or Japanese Eggplant – cut into 3-inch strips, then soaked in a bowl of water for 1520 minutes
  • 6 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 1-inch knob of Ginger – minced
  • 27 Red Chilies, to taste – chopped
  • 1 Spring Onion – chopped, whites and greens separated
  • ¼ cup Dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms – soaked in a bowl of water for 20 minutes, then drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 58 Dried Red Chilies, to taste – broken up into halves and thirds depending on size
  • 150 grams ground/minced or shredded Pork (optional) – (Omit if making this vegetarian/vegan)
  • 23 TBLS Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Sauce)Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang preferred, but Lee Kum Kee will work perfectly fine. (See notes)*
  • 23 TSP White Sugar, to taste
  • 1 TBLS Corn Starch + ½ cup Water (mixed together to make a slurry)
  • 3 & ½ TBLS Peanut Oil (or any cooking oil with a high burning point)
  • 1 TSP Sesame Oil
  • 1 TSP Chili Oil (optional)

For Serving: 

  • Steamed white rice (You can use white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice if you prefer.)

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Mince the garlic and ginger and chop the fresh red chilies and spring onion. Separate the whites and green parts of the spring onion as they will be added to the wok at different times. Slice the eggplant into 3-inch strips. Add them to a bowl of water and soak for 15-20 minutes. Then drain into colander or a fine mesh strainer and set aside. (Note: Soaking the eggplant strips in water makes them less prone to absorbing oil like sponges. It enables us to get away with pan-frying instead of deep frying them first.)
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl or measuring cup (the latter will make it easier to pour into the wok). Mix with a spoon to thoroughly combine, then set aside.
  3. Boil the mushrooms: Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water for 20 minutes to rehydrate. Then drain and rinse thoroughly. Cut the wood ears into smaller pieces if they are on the larger side. Then heat water over high heat in a small pot until boiling. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and boil for 3-5 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse the mushrooms thoroughly again (the water from the pot will be dirty). Set aside.
  4. Make the corn starch slurry: Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl or measuring cup (for easier pouring). Mix until combined and a slurry has formed, then set aside.
  5. Cook the rice: Cook the rice according to package instructions and set aside. (If using a rice cooker, you can leave it to cook while you prepare the eggplant stir-fry.)

For the Yu Xiang Eggplant:

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, turn the heat down to medium-high and add the eggplant strips. Cook for 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally, until slightly browned and tender. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Return the wok back to the stovetop.
  2. Heat the remainder peanut oil, sesame oil, and chili oil (if using). Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, and spring onion whites. Stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Then add the red chilies and stir-fry for another minute to combine.
  3. Next, add the ground pork and the Dou Ban Jiang on top. Cook and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, breaking the lumps as you go, until the pork is no longer pink and everything is combined.
  4. Add the dried red chilies and the mushrooms. Toss briefly to combine, then add the eggplant strips and pour the sauce you made earlier over everything. Season with sugar and toss to combine.
  5. Then give the corn starch slurry a quick stir with a spoon (the corn starch will have settled at the bottom) and pour it into the wok. Stir-fry for a minute or two, or until the sauce has thickened.
  6. Add the spring onion greens and stir-fry briefly for 10 seconds to combine, then switch off the heat.
  7. To Serve: Transfer to a serving dish and and serve immediately with the warm steamed rice.

Notes

  1. A note on Dou Ban Jiang (Chili Bean Paste): This recipe is based on using a Cantonese style Dou Ban Jiang – Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce. The taste will be slightly different if using a Taiwanese, Japanese, or Pixian Dou Ban Jiang. If using Sichuan Pixian Dou Ban Jiang, you may need to only add 1-2 tablespoons of the paste as it is quite salty and more spicy. In addition, you may need to reduce the amount of soy sauce.
  2. To make it vegetarian/vegan: Simply omit the minced pork and add only 1-2 tablespoons of Dou Ban Jiang on top of the aromatics. Stir-fry to combine for a minute, then follow steps 4-7 as indicated in the instructions. Also, use ½ cup Dried Cloud Ear Mushrooms to make up for the difference in quantity if omitting the pork.
  3. To make it gluten-free: Double check that your Dou Ban Jiang doesn’t have any ingredients with gluten in it. Also, use a gluten-free soy sauce and gluten-free dark soy sauce.
  4. Use a different protein: Leave out the pork, or swap for ground chicken, turkey, lamb, or even beef! You can also try making it with a plant-based ground beef product such as Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef if making this vegetarian. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 516
  • Sugar: 11.3g
  • Sodium: 816.7mg
  • Fat: 33.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 21.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.9g
  • Fiber: 4.9g
  • Protein: 12.5g
  • Cholesterol: 41.4mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

Yu Xiang Eggplant, ground pork, cloud ear mushrooms, and aromatics stir-fry in a white round serving dish. Black chopsticks to the right side of the dish and two steamed white rice bowls above the serving dish.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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