Chinese-Inspired Sweet & Sour Eggplant

Eggplants sautéed with garlic, ginger, chilli and seasoned with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Damn! This healthy, vegan and gluten-free recipe is deliciously sweet and savoury. Serve it alone or with a bowl of rice. It’s excellent in compliment with other Chinese dishes.

I was first introduced to this recipe by my good friend Aaron who is both MTLVEG’s unofficial food tester and a massive influence on my cooking. He’s an Asian food enthusiast with knowledge of Chinese and Thai cuisine. Thanks, Aaron, for this recipe!

Authenticity and international cuisine

My friend Aaron, like many foodies, is impressed by authentic dishes that taste as they would in their country of origin. Exploring authentic cuisines in a multicultural city like Montreal is exciting. Exploring unknown ingredients, interpreting foreign labels and travelling across town for family-run gems is all part of the fun. But being a vegetarian often prevents you from tasting many authentic dishes. If you’re plant-based, Jamaican Jerk Chicken becomes Jerk Tempeh, London steak becomes tofu steak, and meat-based stocks replace vegetables.

I bring this up because I want to emphasize that although international cuisines profoundly influence me, my recipes are not necessarily the “real deal.” That’s why I write “Chinese-Inspired,” rather than Chinese. I prefer to allude to the place and flavours of a country or region without claiming to have the authentic key to that cuisine. I feel it was essential to make the distinction. When I share a recipe, it’s my spin. Often, I have influences, and when I do, I’ll reference them for those who want to learn more.

Chinese-Inspired Sweet & Sour Eggplant [Vegan/Gluten-Free]

A deliciously sweet and savoury dish that can be served with rice or on its own. Fresh eggplants sautéed with garlic, ginger, chilli, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil.
3.05 from 1732 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese, Gluten-free
Servings 2


  • 2 Chinese eggplants, cut into logs
  • half yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli like sambal oelek
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp canola oil for frying


  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped For garnish



  • In a medium bowl, whisk together garlic, ginger, green onions and chilli, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil set aside.
  • Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add eggplant, bell pepper and celery, sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add vinegar mixture, stirring frequently and allow excess liquid to evaporate, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro.
Keyword Eggplant, Spicy
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Makes two servings.

Add rice and steamed veggies for a complete meal.