Sweet and Sour Eggplant

A couple of years ago, before I started this blog, I spent some time in London. My husband was working there, which gave me a terrific opportunity to experience the city, the culture, and the food. While England isn’t exactly known for its culinary delights, I did have a few terrific meals on that trip. I remember one night in particular when we stumbled into a Chinese restaurant somewhere near Leicester Square. I wish I could remember the name of the place. But I do remember what we ate, especially one dish. It was a sweet and sour eggplant with red bell peppers. I enjoyed the dish so much that I wrote it down in my little travel notebook, with my best guess as to what the ingredients were. I loved the flavor combination—sweet, sour, salty, and just a little bit spicy. Amazing.

My obligatory British red phone booth picture.

When I came home, I spent a few days trying to replicate the flavor. On the third try, my husband smiled. I’d cracked the code. Don’t you love it when that happens?

The best part about this dish is that it’s healthy and really simple to make. When poured over rice it’s a complete entrée, or you can make it a side dish for a larger meal. I made it for my family yesterday as a light dinner. As I was cooking, I realized I hadn’t shared the recipe with you all yet. How rude! I can’t keep all of this awesome flavor to myself, it’s just too easy and yummy not to share. So here you go!  :)

This recipe is pareve and vegan. You can make it gluten free by using a certified GF soy sauce. Make sure it’s certified; most soy sauce does contain gluten, but there are GF brands out there. Eden Organic Tamari Soy Sauce is gluten free, and it’s certified kosher when it has a Circle K on the label. Also, if you like spice, be sure to add some cayenne pepper to the mix. It’s really spicy (we like spicy), so I made it optional– add with care!

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Sweet and Sour Eggplant


  • 1 lb. Chinese or Japanese eggplants, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional, adds spiciniess)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked long grain rice, white or brown (optional)
Servings: 2
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Place the cubed eggplant in a single layer on a cutting board or a bed of paper towels. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let stand.
  • After about 30 minutes, water droplets will form on the surface of the eggplant.
  • Rinse salt from the eggplant thoroughly and pat dry.
  • Seed the bell pepper, then cut it into long thin slices. Cut the slices in half.
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Reserve.
  • In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch with 1 tbsp water till dissolved.
  • Pour cornstarch liquid into reserved sauce, whisk till well combined.
  • Heat oil in a skillet or wok over medium high till hot (not smoking). Add eggplant cubes and sauté till the edges begin to brown, 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the red pepper slices and continue to sauté for 3-4 more minutes till the pepper slices are tender-crisp.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Pour the reserved sauce over the top of the eggplant and peppers. Stir the sauce with the vegetables till they are evenly coated. Continue to stir till the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour over rice, if serving as an entrée. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top of the eggplant and peppers. Serve.

Comments (50)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Sweet and sour dishes are served frequently in our home. I’ve never cooked with eggplant before. Your dish looks amazing. I’m glad you gave recommendations on making the dish gluten-free. Gluten finds it’s way into so many sauces, spices and other everyday condiments. We use tamari in our home for gluten-free sauces and it’s fabulous. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I love a dish that is healthy and great tasting – especially anything made with eggplants – terrific recipe! how does this taste cold? Im thinking of making it for shabbos and serving it tossed in salad? – would it work?

    1. Sarah that’s a terrific question. I’ve never actually eaten this dish cold, we’ve never once had leftovers because we like it so much! But I think it might be great in a salad– maybe with shredded cabbage? If you have a chance to try it, please let me know how it goes!

  3. Sarah – Sounds good! I’ll bet that you could certainly use Tori’s recipe in a tossed salad. I would prepare the dish as directed. Chill it – this way the salad won’t wilt – then toss the sweet and sour eggplant into your prepared salad.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi, Tori, i just saw your posting on this sweet n sour eggplant dish. i love eggplants! i have done this dish many times over, it’s incredible! Donald was never a big fan of eggplants, but when i made this, he devoured it. there were also times when i made it with triangles of fried tofu in it and strips of scallions. great dish over rice!!! thanks for posting.

  5. I have made a similar dish for years but omit peppers since I’m allergic to all bells. I occasionally add mushrooms, kale or cabbage too. Thanks for posting, I love everything eggplant!

  6. Now this looks a meal I would really enjoy. Eggplant is easily one of my favorites, but I’ve never tried it in a sweet and sour dish before. I know what I’ll be making in the next week or two!

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    We love eggplant and eat it frequently. Am looking forward to making this dish this week because it looks delicious. Thank you. :-))))

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Oh wow! what a great way to enjoy eggplant, I def going to try this, another vegeterian and vegan choice, thank you again Tori. 😀

  9. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hi Tori,

    Thanks for the recipe and your blog.

    We cooked this the other night. Made a few changes (minor)….used low sodium soy sauce and halved the amount, served over whole grain brown rice (though quinoa would also be a great option), and included in the recipe cubed tofu (to add protein – with protein helping with satiety).

    Was great and a welcome vegan addition to a very non vegan home.


  10. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I am eager to try this recipe! We love eggplant. I tried to forward it to another computer in our house, so I could print it, but I have no idea what kind of server we have, and when I pressed send, nothing happened. Your site is wonderful; I wish I had the computer skills to utilize it better.

    1. Hi Maureen, did you try clicking on the red “Print Recipe” button at the beginning of the recipe, on the light green recipe card above? It should create a print version for you…

  11. Excellent recipe! I added extra firm tofu cut into cubes and served the dish over quinoa as a meal – delish! Thanks!

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This recipe caught my eye, and after having it bookmarked for a couple of weeks, I finally tried it tonight with some leftover eggplants from Pesach. Delicious! The sauce was perfect in flavor and amount, and I love Cynthia’s idea to add tofu and scallions. Will definitely try this again with those add-ins.

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have been following your blog for a while now via facebook and salivating over many a picture of your delicious recipes. However it was not until recently that i decided to try my hand at one. The sweet and sour eggplant was a delicious masterpiece and i cant wait to try more-thank you!

    1. So happy you liked the eggplant Ryan! A delicious masterpiece… that’s high praise! (blushing) Hope you get a chance to try more of my recipes. Welcome!

  14. Do Japanese eggplant really need to be salted? I find them not bitter like big Italian style eggplants, I feel washing away the salt also washes away the delicate sweet flavor of the asian variety of eggplant and make sthe water logged……Just sayin’

    1. Hi Moshe– good question. The bitterness has more to do with the size than the variety. I’ve found the smaller the eggplant, the less prone they are to bitterness. While Japanese/Chinese eggplants are generally on the smaller side, certain varieties can grow quite large and long. So yes, if you are using small Japanese eggplants, you may not need to salt them. If they are larger eggplants, I would err on the side of caution and salt them.

  15. I can’t wait to make this recipe but will definitely need to double it for a family of 4. Can one use anything else other than cornstarch? Have you added anything other than seiten or tofu for protein to the recipe? thank you so much, Selena

  16. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    One of my favourite dishes. As it’s getting warmer here (Australia) and I don’t cook on Shabbes, I served it as a cold dish on a bed of Israeli cous cous to my lunchtime visitors last Shabbes. It was fantastic and enjoyed thoroughly by all. It’s on the menu again for my Shabbes visitors next week as it is so easy to prepare, looks and tastes great. Thanks Tori

  17. I was thinking of making sweet and sour eggplant dish and your recipe is exactly what I was looking for, expet I am going to nadd a little ground meat for taste and protein.

  18. I made this dish acording to your mesurement and it came out too salty, now that I think about it 3 tabsp of soy is too much not eanogh vinaigre not very sweet and sour

  19. This looks exactly like a dish I get in my favorite asian restaurant. They only thing I’ll add is a couple hot peppers to spice it up a bit. So glad I found your blog/website and look forward to getting your weekly emails.

  20. Many thanks for this simple, quick, *vegan* recipe – it was a massive success and will be part of our rotation, for sure. We love eggplant and I love having another healthy, non-parmesan context for it. We used a standard store-bought eggplant and skipped the salting/rinsing with no ill effects that we could perceive. Canola oil was also a fine substitute for peanut.

  21. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    This is a great dish i made lots of times thank you! Now i have a question, i made this tonight and want to serve tomorrow night for shabbat meal, should i warm it up in the oven or just leave outside get to room trmp?!

  22. Excellent! Thank you for posting. I added a little water and cooked it a bit longer in the sauce. I used half a hot pepper ( can’t eat bell peppers)

  23. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Just made this for lunch and it was delicious! Will definitely be making again. The only thing I changed in this recipe was adding fresh ginger.
    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! Keep up all the good things you do!

  24. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hi hi! So I made this tonight and it looks so amazing! I can’t wait to try it. It smells relish! I added a couple of hand fils of spinach to go into it and am waiting on quinoia to finish cooking instead of rice. Way more protein and omega 3 . Overall just healthier than rice! Thanks for this yum recipe!

  25. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just made this and it was amazing! I ended up using sesame seed oil instead of peanut oil but I’m sure either way would be just as awesome.

  26. This recipe looks amazingly delicious. Not complicated or time consuming at all. Very economical too. Thing is-in the list of ingredients you’ve listed rice vinegar. In the directions it’s listed as rice wine vinegar. I’m confused as to which one to use. Please get back to me asap cause I’m really dying to try it-I know I’m gonna love it.

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