Marinated & Steamed Chinese Eggplant

marinated eggplant
Eggplants are not quite in season (far from it, actually), but when a beautiful bunch of dark purple nightshades cropped up at the grocery store, I just couldn’t resist. These are Chinese eggplants, different from Italian eggplants in their long, thin appearance. The skin of Chinese eggplants is also thinner than the ones you’d normally find in the produce aisle.

This recipe is for an easy side dish of marinated and steamed eggplant, perfect for accompanying Thai or Chinese food. It’s originally from Food 52.


Serves 4, cooking time 1 hour

  • ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • About 12 ounces of whole Chinese eggplants


  1. Combine all ingredients except eggplants in a blender. Process until smooth.
  2. Poke the eggplants with a fork all around. Slide off the stem and leaves at the top, and then slice each eggplant in half. Lightly score the flesh of the eggplants, then place them skin-side down in a microwave-safe dish.
  3. Spoon the marinade over each eggplant half. Rub the marinade into the flesh so that it runs into the cuts. Then flip the eggplant pieces over so they are skin- side up. Pour remaining marinade into dish. Marinate for about 45 minutes (room temperature or in the fridge is fine).
  4. Turn eggplants skin-side down once more. Cover tightly with lid or microwave plastic wrap*. Cook at 100 percent power in a high-power oven for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from microwave and uncover. Serve warm or at room temperature

You can use a food processor, blender, or Nutri-bullet to blend the marinade. Make sure not to skip poking holes in the skin of the eggplant with a fork, or else they will not steam properly. Scoring the flesh of the eggplants is also crucial for letting the marinade soak into the whole vegetable. These really are adaptable once steamed; you can slice them into bite sized pieces or serve whole, depending on which presentation you prefer. Similarly, you can serve them hot (they can be reheated) or at room temperature to complement other dishes on the menu. They can even be mixed with some fried tofu over rice for a whole meal by itself. Whatever way you enjoy them, make a point to pick up some Chinese eggplants and try this delicious dish ASAP!

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