Updated on January 30, 2022 by Julia
This braised eggplant with minced pork is a delicious and filling dish that goes great as a sauce over noodles or rice. Fatty pork and eggplant soaked in a flavorful sauce can't go wrong. Plus, this dish can be made in just enough time for a hearty weekday dinner meal.
This method of braising gives the respective dish so much flavor. This is what makes this braised eggplant dish such a treat. The pork is browned first, and the eggplant added in right after, allowing the pork fat to add an element of richness and creaminess to the dish.
I also have a recipe for braised eggplant using an Instant Pot. This cuts down the cooking time to a mere minutes with plenty of sauce and flavor to share!
What can I serve this dish with?
The dish is served best over plain noodles or rice. There is so much rich and flavorful sauce that no other accompaniments are required.
Try this with thin Chinese wheat noodles or somen (which is often used in Japan). After you've cooked the dry noodles according to package instructions, drain, and rinse under cold water. Immediately rinsing noodles helps to remove extra starch and gives them more of a springy texture.
- Ground pork - Preferably use a fattier cut of ground pork such as 75/25, but it's okay to go leaner if that's your preference. If you're not a fan of pork, it's always easy to sub the protein with ground beef or even ground turkey.
- Chinese eggplant - It's important to get Chinese eggplant (which are long and skinny) versus the ones you find at Western supermarkets that are larger and rounder (called globe eggplants). These might sometimes be labelled as Japanese eggplants depending on the grocery store you're shopping at!
- Shaoxing wine - This fermented rice wine is a necessity when making any dish that includes meats or fish as it helps to offset the smell of raw meat and adds an aromatic flavor. I always have a large bottle of this in my pantry!
- Sesame oil - One of my favorite aromatics to add to any Asian dish.
- White pepper powder
- Spicy chili crisp - One of my all-time favorites is Lao Gan Ma which is a staple in Chinese households. This does have a bit of a kick, but is great for flavor. If you're going for a more mild flavor, you can skip this ingredient.
- Chili bean sauce - Otherwise known as dou ban jiang, this is key to developing a flavorful sauce.
- Light soy sauce - This is the soy sauce most people have in their pantries and can be extremely salty. I lean towards keeping the lower sodium version in my kitchen.
- Dark soy sauce - Yes, there is a difference between light and dark soy sauce and it's not just color! Dark soy sauce is actually less salty and a little thicker than light soy sauce. The flavors are more intense and add a beautiful caramel color to dishes.
- Oyster sauce
- Cornstarch - The cornstarch has a two-fold purpose. You'll first add it to the pork when seasoning as this helps the pork retain its juiciness and flavor while it's cooking down. Towards the end of making the dish when the sauce is simmering, you'll add a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the sauce.
- Prep the eggplant but cutting into small wedges. Place eggplant into a large bowl and fill with water just enough to cover the eggplant slices. Salt water and let eggplant sit for 15 minutes while prepping the protein. Soaking the eggplant in salt water helps to remove any bitterness and helps to keep its shape when cooking (this process is called brining!).
- While the eggplant is soaking, prep the ground pork by seasoning with light soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, white pepper powder, and Shaoxing wine. Set aside while prepping the garlic and ginger (mince both!).
- Drain eggplants and dry with a paper towel.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of a neutral oil in a deep pan on medium heat. You can also use a wok or a dutch oven (like I did). Add the garlic and ginger. Saute for 1 minute. Add in ground pork.
- Brown the ground pork. Once pork is browned, add the eggplants. Now's the time to add in the aromatics, spicy chili crisp, chili bean sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir so everything in the pan is well-coated.
- Add 1.5 cups of water, let simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Make a cornstarch slurry using 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoon of water (use a 1:2 ration when creating a cornstarch slurry). Add to sauce and stir. Let simmer for 1 more minute.
- Serve over noodles or rice! I like to add in a fistful of chopped scallions for extra flavor!
- Brining the eggplant. While this step extends the prep time by 15 or so minutes, brining the eggplant helps to remove any bitterness and helps the eggplant better keep its shape. Many say brining eggplant is extremely important when grilling! Eggplants don't have much flavor on its own, but it's an amazing sponge- however, that comes with the risk of soggy, sad-looking eggplants
- Adding cornstarch to the pork. Adding ½ teaspoon of cornstarch to the pork when marinading helps to protect the outer layer of the pork so it doesn't overcook and become tough (which helps to lock in the flavor!)
Braised meat recipes
There are plenty of amazing Asian braised recipes to choose from! Looking for more, try:
Braised Eggplant with Minced Pork
- ½ lb ground pork
- 2 Chinese eggplant
- Water and salt to brine eggplant
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- ½ teaspoon light soy sauce
Rest of Dish
- 2 tablespoon neutral oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon spicy chili crisp
- 1 tablespoon spicy bean sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon water
- Prep eggplant by cutting into wedges. Place eggplants into a bowl and fill with water just enough to cover the eggplants. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and let eggplant sit for 15 minutes.
- Marinade pork with light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, white pepper powder, and sesame oil.
- Remove eggplant from water and pat dry with paper towel.
- Heat up oil in a deep pan or wok. Add in garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in pork and brown. When pork is no longer pink, add in the eggplants.
- Add in spicy chili crisp, chili bean sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce. Stir the pot so pork and eggplant are evenly coated.
- Add in 1½ cups of water. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Lastly, add in cornstarch slurry and let simmer for a final 1 minute so the sauce thickens up slightly.
- Serve over rice or noodles, your pick!