We love Asian dishes, but all that extra salt in the MSG-laden, takeout varieties - not so much. That's why we adapted one of our favorite eggplant stir fry recipes to make it completely plant-based and lower in sodium without losing any of the rich, delicious flavor!
Eggplant and tofu combo is a heavenly match – it was really hard to stop my mouth from watering while making this recipe.
We created this dish based on one of our favorite tofu eggplant recipes popular in Chinese takeout: it blends soft, cooked down strips of eggplant with tofu that's crisped to perfection in a garlicky sauce, but without all of the added chemicals, excess salt, and MSG.
Try this plant-based meal for a rich and easy weeknight dinner that takes only 30 minutes from start to finish!
How to Make Szechuan Eggplant Tofu
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- Cooking spray or a splash of oil
- 1 lb. extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 c. vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp Asian chili paste, to taste
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 lb. fresh eggplant, sliced into thin strips smaller than ½ inch
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- Remove your extra-firm tofu from the package and press in a tofu press for a minimum of 15 mins. Remove the tofu block from the press and cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Coat a large skillet with cooking oil or spray, and heat on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
- Add the cubed tofu to the skillet in a single layer. Let the tofu stir fry until it's browned on each side – about 3 mins per side. Remove the stir-fried tofu from the skillet, transfer to a plate, and set aside.
- In a small-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, soy sauce or tamari, brown sugar, rice vinegar, chili paste, and cornstarch until combined thoroughly, then set aside.
- Place the vegetable and sesame oil in the skillet and place it over medium heat again. Add your minced garlic and sauté for 1 min.
- Add the eggplant strips to the pan in a single layer. Cook ~ 5 mins, until the stir-fried eggplant strips brown on the bottom. Gently flip the eggplant strips and cook for another 5 mins, until browned on the opposite side and tender to the touch. If the skillet begins to dry out, you can add a bit more vegetable oil as needed.
- Add the soy sauce mix to the skillet and continue to cook for ~ 1 min, until the sauce thickens and the Chinese style eggplant is well-coated.
- Add the cooked tofu to the skillet and toss to distribute through the sauce and eggplant.
- Divide your eggplant and tofu recipe between four plates or bowls. Serve your Szechuan style tofu with steamed jasmine rice, topped with the freshly chopped green onion and a drizzle of sriracha.
Chinese Eggplant Tofu Recipe - Nutrition Information
Per Serving (Without rice)
Calories: 215 kcals
Fat: 13 g
Sodium: 518 mg
Carbohydrates: 16.2 g
Fiber: 5.3 g
Sugar: 8.8 g
Protein: 11.5 g
Szechuan Eggplant Recipe FAQ
Chinese Eggplant Recipe - Serving Options
We served this eggplant over a scoop of steamed jasmine rice, but you can also enjoy it over rice noodles, or atop steamed vegetables, for a low-carb option.
Can I use other tofu instead of extra-firm?
Extra-firm tofu will give you the nicest results, as it has the lowest water content and crisps up nicely.
You can substitute firm tofu in a pinch, but you may need to press it for a little longer. Regular, soft, and silken tofu won't work in this dish; they all tend to fall apart entirely during the cooking process.
Do I need to press the tofu?
Pressing your tofu for this stir fry eggplant recipe is a crucial step to remove the excess water, allowing your tofu to fully absorb the deliciously-flavored garlic soy sauce and get crispy in the pan.
Pressing is a piece of cake if you use a tofu press – just place your tofu block in the press and leave it for 15 mins.
If you don't own a press, you can wrap your tofu block in some dry paper towels and place it between two heavy plates to press for a minimum of 2-3 hours.
Is this Szechuan tofu recipe gluten-free?
It sure is! However, soy sauce sometimes contains hidden gluten, so read your label to ensure you're working with a gluten-free variety.
Vegan Eggplant Recipe
We kept this Szechuan recipe relatively mild for those who are more sensitive to spice.
If you're looking to amp up the spicy heat, add some hot chiles or sriracha right into the sauce before you cook it.
We hope you enjoy this vegan eggplant dish without any of the MSG!