Chinese eggplant recipe–Szechuan fish sauce eggplant (Yu Xiang Eggplant) is often listed as Chinese eggplant in hot garlic sauce. It is a savory dish with a fabulous balance of hot, sweet, and sour flavors. This can be the first topping Chinese eggplant recipe.

yu xiang eggplants|

What’s Yu Xiang sauce?

Yu Xiang sauce or fish flavor sauce is often referred to as hot garlic sauce. It is made with a variety of ingredients including chili peppers, garlic, ginger, scallion, black vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. The sauce is often used as a combined stir-frying sauce. One of the representatives of Sichuan cuisine is Sichuan eggplant, or  Yu Xiang Qie Zi(鱼香茄子in Chinese), and the famous Yu Xiang Rou Si(鱼香肉丝 or fish-fragrant shredded pork). Some menus name Yu Xiang eggplant as Chinese Eggplants in hot garlic sauce.

The sauce can also be used to serve as a dipping sauce or make fried rice. There are discussions about the reason why this sauce is called fish fragrance. We get two reasonable reasons here.

  1. the sauce is commonly used to cook fish and then move forward to other dishes. So the sauce is named fish flavor or fish fragrance in Chinese.
  2. The key ingredient pickled chili pepper is pickled with a fish in the jar. So it brings a natural smell of fish.

So which one looks more reasonable for you?

yu xiang eggplants|
Yu Xiang Sauce

What does Yu Xiang Sauce taste?

The Yu Xiang sauce has well-balanced sweet, savory, and hot flavors. This is extremely common in Sichuan cuisine in which many unique flavors can be achieved by adjusting the ratio of the ingredients. This unique fish fragrant sauce is made with pickled red pepper, garlic, ginger, scallions, salt, soy sauce, and vinegar. The particular balanced flavor can be good with almost all types of protein and vegetables. Plus, you can use the sauce to make fried rice too.

The flavors of Yu Xiang sauce might be slightly different in areas in Sichuan. In some places, only pickled peppers are used while in other places doubanjiang is also used for a stronger flavor and color. Compared with other chili sauces, doubanjiang has a strong capacity of adding red color to the dish.  You can make a quick pickled pepper via this instruction.

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Recipe FAQs

Do I need Sichuan peppercorns in Yu Xiang sauce?

Although Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used in many Sichuan dishes, we do not need it for the fish fragrant series.

Can I substitute pickled peppers with other chili peppers?

Well, as the key ingredient, I highly recommend you try to get some pickled chili peppers. But this can be pickled chili pepper (泡椒) can be replaced by doubanjiang for sure. Although the flavor may differ a lot, I am sure doubanjiang can create lovely flavors too. Also, you can check this fermented chili paste which may work really better as a substitute for Sichuan pickled peppers.

Cook eggplants with less oil

One of the reasons why eggplants seem hard to cook is because they absorb lots of oil at the first stage of heating. In restaurants, eggplants are usually deep-fried first before stir fry with seasonings. Deep-frying in a large amount of oil can keep the purple color and cook the eggplants very quickly. So that’s a restaurant-efficient pursing method. But it is not a very economic choice for home cooking. So pan-frying sounds like a better choice. We can use pan-frying with a very small amount of oil but achieve a very similar result. Following are tips for pan-frying with less oil at home.

  1. soak the eggplants in salty water for around 15 minutes. The water absorbed can fasten up the cooking process.
  2. Coat a layer of starch on the eggplant strips. Starch helps to form a crispy shell and better sauce attachment. But optional!
yu xiang eggplants|

Ingredients needed

Eggplants – almost every type of eggplant works
ground pork– or chicken or beef
Pickled peppers – this may be hard to find but can be replaced by doubanjiang in daily cooking.
Doubanjiang – I combine doubanjiang with pickled peppers to increase the red color of the dish.
Black vinegar – for the lovely sour taste
Light soy sauce – for savory basement
Starch – I recommend using cornstarch or potato starch for coating the eggplants and thickening the bowl sauce.
Sugar – I use a larger amount of sugar to present a strong sweet flavor.
Ginger, garlic, and green onion (scallion) – basic aromatics for most Sichuan sauces.

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Cut eggplant into strips and then soak them in salty water for 10 minutes. Remember to add weight.  Then drain and spread 1/2 cup of cornstarch in batches. Mix well, and make sure all of the eggplant strips are well coated.

yu xiang eggplants|

Add oil to pan or wok and fry eggplants until soft. Transfer out.  You can do this by batches and leave some space between each strip so they will not stick together.

yu xiang eggplants|
yu xiang eggplants|

Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok, and fry minced pork until crisp and browned. Add doubanjiang and chopped pepper to continue cooking for 1 minute for red oil. Add garlic, chopped peppers, green onion white part, and ginger to stir-fry for the aroma.

yu xiang eggplants|
yu xiang eggplants|

After adding the sauce, add eggplants and then mix well quickly.

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What to serve with?

The top partner for Yuxiang eggplants is plain staple food like steamed rice or noodles because there are lots of sauces that can attach to the grains and noodles.

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Other Yu Xiang dishes

  1. Yu Xiang shredded pork
  2. Yu Xiang Tofu

Other eggplants recipes

  1. Chinese eggplants with minced pork
  2. Savory crispy eggplants
  3. Chinese stuffed eggplants
  4. Di San Xian- eggplants with green pepper and potatoes
  5. Steamed eggplant with a chili sauce
Yu Xiang Eggplants|

Yu Xiang Qie Zi (Sichuan Eggplant)

Sichuan style eggplants stir fry
4.93 from 28 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Sichuan cuisine
Keyword: Eggplant
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 204kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 2 long eggplants , around 400g
  • 1/4 cup mince pork
  • 1 tbsp. chopped pickled peppers
  • 1/2 tbsp. broad bean paste , Doubanjiang
  • 2 garlic cloves , chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped ginger
  • 2 green onions , white part and green part separately chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. salt for soaking
  • starch for coating

Bowl sauce

  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. black vinegar
  • 5 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. starch , cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt



  • Prepare the eggplants | Roll cut washed eggplants into long strips (try to keep some skin on each one). Then soak the eggplant strips in salty water for around 15 minutes. Move out and drain. Coat with starch (optional but I recommend using since this helps the sauce attach on the eggplants)
  • Prepare the bowl sauce | Prepare a bowl; mix all the ingredients for stir fry sauce. Then set aside.

Fry the eggplants

  • Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in wok or a pan and fry the eggplants until slightly browned by batches.

Make Yu Xiang Sauce

  • Heat another 1 tablespoon of oil in wok, and fry mince pork until crisp and browned. Add doubanjiang and chopped pepper to continue cooking for 1 minute for red oil. Add garlic, chopped peppers, green onion white part and ginger to stir-fry for the aroma.
  • Stir in the sauce. Cook for a while until the sauce is thickened.

Assemble the dish

  • Mix well and make sure the eggplants are well coated. Move from wok, sprinkle chopped green onion! I highly recommend serving this with steamed rice. The magic sauce can turn plain steamed rice into something extremely delicious.



Since both doubanjiang and soy sauce contains salt. So spare your salt.


Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 1374mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 14.9mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.3mg
yu xiang eggplants|

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  1. Stunning as usual. I love every way the Chinese make eggplants. I have a request…there is a cold eggplant salad we sometimes eat at school, in a restaurant we love, and in some very small restaurants (the really cheap ones that have no doors…just some tables). It is often served with sliced eggplant (cold) at the bottom of a dish and some sort of salty red sauce on top. In the restaurant we love it is served with a pestle (a stick) and we can beat it together. It is usually very spicy. Do you perhaps know this salad? If you do…do you know how to make it? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Christine,
      We call that recipe as leibo eggplants usually with a server similar to a garlic processor. It is not difficult. I will post the recipe soon.

  2. I just tried this and it was really good! I added ground pork which I marinated beforehand in salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Tracie,
      Thanks for your lovely feedback. I am so happy to find it works great for you too. Adding some ground pork is a nice choice.

  3. Hi Elaine,
    Good job on this one. Really helpful especially the bean paste ingredient which on most sites I checked wasn’t mentioned. Your post solved my problem on how to make this recipe reddish in color (thanks to the magic ingredient- bean paste) .

    My husband and I love this pickled mushroom salad (cold dish) served in a Sichuan restaurant we frequent. Mushroom is black in color and looks flowery. Tastes sour and very spicy, garnished with chopped coriander. I’d appreciate if you can share a recipe on this.

    Xie Xie in advance.

  4. Thanks each time i do this recipe the appearence is different And taste as Well.but il is always mouth cutting (my on Way of saying too good ). And each time i went to china my colleagues do not ask me what i want. They Just bring me to any restaurant serving eggplant amongst other. Thanks again for helping me doing it at home.

    1. Hi Michele,

      Mouth cutting is such a lovely description. We have similar words like rice killer. Eggplant is really great with Chinese style cooking.

  5. Hi Elaine you’re a life saver.All my favorite food from china is here.I lived in china for 6 years and I loved every bit of it and the food my gosh..It’s heaven.I was searching for some authentic food channel on YouTube but really not much of help then I found your blog.Thank you very much Dear.
    God bless.Take care.