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Chinese-Inspired Sweet & Sour Eggplant

Think fresh eggplants sautéed with garlic, ginger, chilli and seasoned with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Damn! This is a healthy recipe that happens to be vegan and gluten-free? It’s deliciously sweet and savoury and served alone or with rice.

I was first introduced to this recipe by my good friend Aaron who is both MTLVEG’s unofficial food tester and a huge influence on my cooking. He’s an Asian food enthusiast with knowledge of both 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 really exciting.  You’re always hunting for exotic ingredients, interpreting foreign labels and travelling across town for family-run gems. But being a vegetarian often prevents you from tasting a lot of authentic dishes. This is even more true for vegans. When you’re a veghead like me, Jamaican jerk chicken becomes jerk tempeh, London steak becomes tofu steak and meat-based stocks get replaced with vegetable.

I bring this up because I want to emphasize that my recipes, although deeply influenced by international cuisines are not necessarily the “real deal.” When I share a recipe, it is often my plant based spin on traditional dishes. Although I do admire authenticity and always strive to always seek out authentic ingredients, I felt it was important to make the distinction.

Chinese-Inspired Sweet and 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 1731 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese, Gluten-free
Servings 2


  • 3 Chinese eggplants, cut into logs
  • half yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli like sambal oelek
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 2 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, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce, set aside.
  • Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add eggplant, bell pepper and celery, sauté until soften, about 3 minutes.
  • Add vinegar mixture, stirring frequently and allow excess water 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.