An easy Asian-style spicy eggplant dish, this uses prepared Korean BBQ sauce or Bulgogi sauce for major flavor impact. This easy and luscious eggplant recipe is an amalgam of inspiration from two Korean classics, gaji bokkeum and gochujang eggplant.
Gochujang is the red chili paste that spices up many Korean dishes. Though it adds an authentic flavor, if you prefer, you can use dried hot pepper flakes. Though both are optional — the dish already has fresh chile peppers to set your palate aflame if you like spicy dishes.
That being said, the recipe offers a milder alternative — use a sweet bell pepper in place of the chiles and skip the other hot stuff. The result will still be a delicious eggplant dish that fans of this vegetable will find addictive.
- 2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds total
- 2 tablespoons safflower or other high-heat oil
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 red or green chile peppers, seeded and sliced (or see alternative in Notes)
- 1/2 cup Korean BBQ sauce or Bulgogi sauce (see Note), or to taste
- Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
- 2 teaspoons natural granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- Gochujang (Korean red chili paste) or dried hot red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- Hot cooked rice, optional
- Trim the ends from the eggplants, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice to make not-too-thin strips, about 2 inches long on average.
- Combine the eggplant with 1/2 cup water in a stir-fry pan and cook over medium-high heat until nearly tender, stirring often and replenishing with just enough water to keep the pan moist, if need be. This should take about 8 minutes.
- Drizzle in the oil, then add the garlic, and chile peppers. Turn the heat up to high and stir-fry until the eggplant begins to brown here and there, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the Korean BBQ sauce, lemon juice, sugar, sesame oil, and. Taste to see if the dish is sufficiently spicy for your taste, and if not, and you’d like it more incendiary, add gochujang or red pepper flakes to taste.
- Serve at once, garnishing each serving with scallions and sesame seeds. If you’d like, you can serve over rice.
For a less spicy dish, use a medium red or green bell pepper, cut into short narrow strips.
Look for Korean BBQ sauce or Bulgogi sauce in the Asian foods section of well-stocked supermarkets. You’ll find it shelved near teriyaki sauce and such. I highly recommend trying it!
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Photos (top and middle): Timolina/Bigstock.