Chinese Eggplant Salad, An Easy Make-Ahead Menu Option

Chinese Eggplant Salad, An Easy Make-Ahead Menu Option

This lovely cold dish is a study in contrasts.  It is sweet and sour, with a divine, slippery texture, and a mild nuttiness from the toasted sesame seeds.  This “salad” makes a lovely, light meal for two on a warm summer day.  Alternately, it can serve 4 to 6 people as a side dish.

I often find myself stuck in a cooking rut when it comes to salads.  I focus so much on the main dish I am serving that the salad course becomes almost an afterthought.

When it’s unscripted, salad at my house is usually a simple tossed green salad with French vinaigrette.  A  perfectly dressed green salad can be an almost sensual experience.  The contrast of textures, colors and flavors — when properly executed — can be nothing short of divine.  However, even the most exquisite salad becomes dull if its served every single day.

So, I tend to flag alternative salads wherever I find them.  That’s exactly how I identified this zesty dish!

As we head into summer in Johannesburg, it’s important to have a repertoire of quick, flavorful side dishes for those long, lazy days by the braai (grill).  However, I believe this salad — which I like to serve at room temperature — is as well suited to packed lunches and harried weeknights as it is to long summer days.  It is one of those make-ahead dishes your family is certain to ask for over and over again.

Chinese Eggplant Salad |
This easy and delicious eggplant salad is bound to become a firm family favorite. Seasoned with garlic, ginger and sesame, it is surprisingly light and refreshing.

The Chinese Recipe

Believe it or not, this is a classic Chinese recipe.  I’ve adapted it from the recipe for Cold Spiced Eggplant which appeared in The Chinese Cookbook.  This seminal work was written by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee in 1972, and is one of my all-time favorite Chinese cookbooks.  It is filled with gems drawn from Ms. Lee’s extensive experience as a renowned Chinese gourmet and Mr. Claiborne’s intimate knowledge of the culinary arts.

I hope your family enjoys this light, delicious salad as much as mine does.  Bon appétit!


Chinese Eggplant Salad, An Easy Make-Ahead Menu Option

Chinese Eggplant Salad |
Jeanette Marie
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3 ratings
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Prep Time:  5 minutes - Cook Time:  35 minutes Servings:  4

This delicious eggplant salad is so easy to make. Best of all, its delicious sweet and sour flavors have universal appeal and it's an easy dish to make ahead.

  • 2 medium young eggplants
    For the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    To garnish
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • Fresh coriander leaves (optional)

  1. Rinse the eggplants and set them in the top of a steamer. Set it over boiling water. Cover the steamer and allow it to steam for about 30 minutes, or just until the eggplant is collapsed and tender.
  2. Remove steamer from the heat. Set aside and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, sherry and sesame oil.
  4. Heat the canola oil in a small saucepan set over high heat. When it is hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stir constantly for about 10 seconds. Do not allow the garlic to burn.
  5. Add the vinegar and soy sauce mixture to the pan in one go. Bring it to the boil and remove it from the heat. Set aside to cool thoroughly.
  6. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and toast for a few minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Set aside to cool.
  7. Cut or pull the cooled eggplant into shreds. If the seeds are tough, discard them. Pour the cool sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle it with sesame seeds and coriander leaves (if using).
  8. Serve.

This is an easy dish to make ahead. Just keep the eggplant, dressing and garnish separate until serving time.

Nutrition label for Chinese Eggplant Salad, An Easy Make-Ahead Menu Option

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