Szechuan Pork and Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry is a spicy Asian dinner that takes just 20 minutes! Make this recipe for an easy weeknight meal!
This pork and Chinese eggplant recipe creates one of my favorite quick weeknight meals. The pork is juicy, the eggplant is slightly caramelized and the spicy sauce compliments them both. It is out of this world delicious!
The outstanding flavor of Asian cuisine is just one reason to love it. Another reason is the quick cook time. Sure, there are some Asian dishes that require longer to cook.
After all, it takes time to develop flavor in dishes like Vietnamese Pho or Chinese barbecue pork Char Siu.
But when you start with small pieces of protein, quick cooking vegetables, and a flavorful sauce ready to use, it's quick and easy. Toss everything into a searing hot wok and stir fry your way to a delicious dinner in 20 minutes or less!
How spicy is Szechuan pork?
Unlike Hunan, which has an almost overpowering spicy flavor, Szechuan (Sichuan) cooking delivers both spicy and sweet flavors.
This is because a Szechuan is not actually a chile pepper. In fact, it's a type of peppercorn! No, not similar to black or pink peppercorns- those grow on pepper plants. These are little dry berries that grow on Chinese Prickly Ash bushes.
Dishes made with chile peppers that are high on the Scoville scale are just HOT. In fact, some peppers (we're talking to YOU, Carolina Reaper) have the ability to make you feel as though your mouth is on fire.
In comparison, Szechuan Pork and Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry will give your taste buds a pleasant, sweet-hot tingly feeling.
Pork and Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry - ingredients
- PORK TENDERLOIN
This boneless cut of pork lies alongside the backbone of the hog, and is not the same as pork loin, which is located in the back end.
Although both are lean cuts, tenderloin is a long and skinny cut, while pork loin is large, flat and wide.
- CHINESE EGGPLANT
Eggplant fruit (yes, many people think it is a vegetable) is a nightshade in the Solanaceae plant family.
The primary difference between a regular aubergine (another common name for eggplant) and the Chinese variety is its shape. Chinese eggplant is longer, a bit lighter in color, and has a curved shape.
- cornstarch- You'll mix this ingredient with soy sauce to form a thickener called slurry. If you need a gluten-free substitute, an equal amount of arrowroot starch can be substituted instead.
- soy sauce- Feel free to use a low-sodium version, or coconut aminos
- bamboo shoots- You can usually find these in the canned vegetable aisle of larger grocery stores. Otherwise, look in the ethnic foods aisle.
- chili paste- I use Sambal Oelek because it has authentic Asian flavor
- black bean sauce- If you are out of this sauce and have Hoisin on hand, it's the perfect substitute!
- ginger paste- If you can find fresh ginger paste, I recommend using that. Almost all Asian grocery markets carry it.
Recipe Notes and FAQ
1. How do you cut eggplant for stir fry?
First, trim the end off of each end. Next, cut each eggplant lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 2-inch long pieces.
Toss lightly in a bowl with kosher salt. The salt will extract some of the water content from the eggplant so it doesn't become mushy when it's cooked.
2. Do you have to peel eggplant before cooking it?
For this spicy stir fry recipe, no peeling is necessary! The skin is not only edible, but it's also a good source of nutrients.
3. Why is pork always dry?
The reason many pork dishes end up dry is because the meat is overcooked! Keep in mind that stir frying is a quick cooking method. The immense heat of a wok can fully cook proteins like beef and pork in just 3-4 minutes.
Szechuan Pork and Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry
- 1 lb pork tenderloin (See Note 1)
- 3 tbsp cornstarch divided
- 4 tbsp soy sauce divided
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Chinese eggplant
- 4 green onions
- 8 oz sliced bamboo shoots
- 3 tbsp chili paste Sambal Oelek
- 2 tbsp black bean sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger paste
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Cut the pork tenderloin into 1 inch square pieces or strips. Place in a bowl to marinate with 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Trim the ends off the Chinese eggplant. Cut each eggplant lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into 2-inch long pieces. Toss lightly in a bowl with kosher salt and set aside to drain excess water.
- Prep sauce by mixing the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch, chili paste, black bean sauce, ginger, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, honey, apple cider vinegar and sesame oil. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat and add the oil. Add the minced garlic and stir fry quickly. Add the pork in batches and stir fry quickly until browned. Don’t overcrowd the pan or you will steam the pork. We want this stir fried with crispy edges.
- Gently squeeze excess water from eggplant and add eggplant to pork in wok, stir fry until seared, about 3 minutes.
- Add the green onions, and bamboo shoots. Next add the sauce mixture and stir fry for a minute until fragrant and the sauce has thickened. If too thick add some chicken broth or water to thin.
- Serve with steamed rice or over noodles of choice.
- Boneless pork chops may be substituted, sliced into ½ inch strips.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.