Easy and delicious stir-fried tofu and Chinese eggplant, tossed in a super flavorful garlicky sauce. The tofu takes on a crispy outer texture thanks to the cornstarch coating and pan frying. This pairs nicely with the tender Chinese eggplant, giving the dish some variety with each bite.
Key Tips – Garlic Eggplant & Crispy Tofu
Chinese eggplant are distinct from typical eggplant found in the US.
- Chinese eggplant are long and skinny compared to standard US eggplant. When diced, this results in more pieces that have the eggplant skin in every bite. This helps the eggplant hold up a little better as it’s stir-fried, and I prefer it for this kind of dish.
- Some American grocery stores will carry Chinese eggplant, but it’s easiest to find at Asian grocery stores in the US.
- If desired, you can substitute regular eggplant. One large eggplant should be about equal to two medium Chinese eggplant.
Press your tofu to remove excess water.
- Tofu comes soaking in water, but we want to remove as much as possible before pan-frying. Pat the tofu dry with paper towels and gently squish it to remove excess water.
- For best results, press the tofu in a tofu press (like this one) for about 30 minutes. Or wrap the tofu block in paper towels and place on a rimmed plate, then rest a heavy object (like a cast iron pan) on top for ~30 minutes.
Use a small mesh strainer to dust the corn starch.
- I use a small mesh strainer to help evenly dust the eggplant and tofu pieces with corn starch. This works so much better than trying to evenly sprinkle it on top.
Check out my guide on freezing fresh garlic to save some time in the kitchen.
- If you’re looking for the convenience of pre-minced garlic, but the flavor of fresh garlic, freezing your own minced garlic is a great option! You’ll be surprised to find that the flavor of frozen garlic is nearly as good as fresh, without the sticky prep and clean-up. Read more about it here: How to Freeze Garlic.
Dietary Restrictions – Garlic Eggplant & Crispy Tofu
This dish is naturally Dairy-Free.
This dish is naturally Gluten-free
- Just make sure you’re using gluten-free soy sauce, some soy sauce contains wheat. Tamari soy sauce is always gluten-free.
- Some oyster sauce contains gluten, make sure you’re using gluten free oyster sauce.
Make it Vegan/Vegetarian
- The only non-vegan ingredient in this dish is the oyster sauce, which can easily be substituted for vegetarian oyster sauce to make the dish fully vegan.
A Note On Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. While this is listed as 4 servings, many people would prefer to have more than one serving. I typically serve this dish as 2-3 large dinner servings or 4 small lunch servings. Pictured here are two servings per bowl.
Garlic Eggplant & Crispy Tofu
- Press the tofu in a tofu press, or wrap in paper towels and place under a heavy object for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture. Cut the tofu into ~¾” cubes. Dust the tofu with about 2 tbsp of cornstarch and toss to fully coat. (For an extra crispy coating, use even more cornstarch on the tofu, about 1/4 cup)
- Remove the tops from the Chinese eggplants then quarter them longwise (creating 4 long strips per eggplant). Cut the strips into ½ inch pieces to create many small chunks. Dust the eggplant with about 2 tbsp of cornstarch and toss to fully coat.
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Heat a swirl of veggie oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large skillet. Add the eggplant chunks and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is crispy in some places and soft all the way through, about 5-7 minutes. Try to position the eggplant so the cut sides are in contact with the pan. The eggplant will likely absorb the oil, but there’s no need to keep adding more. Once cooked, remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
- To the skillet, add another generous swirl of veggie oil. Once warm, add the cubed tofu pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is golden and crispy on most sides, about 10 minutes. Once cooked, remove to a plate.
- Add a little more oil to the skillet, once warm add the garlic and the whites of the green onion. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the sauce and mix everything together, then add the tofu and eggplant back to the skillet. Remove from heat and mix everything together. Top with the green onion greens and sesame seeds, serve immediately with white rice.
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