How to make eggplant taste good

TL;DR: Add a delicious sauce and roast the heck out of it.

Eggplant haters of the world, this one’s for you. I know you’re out there because a) I’m one of you and b) there are countless articles on the internet explaining why eggplant is the worst with recipes dedicated to all the people who hate it. But, despite the drama surrounding eggplant and its gross, bland, bitterness, it is possible to make this vegetable taste good. (Fact check: eggplant is technically a berry -*eye roll*.) All you need is some umami-loaded oyster sauce, a little sesame oil, and a generous drizzle of sambal oelek. And while we’re at it, you might as well throw in some broccoli, red onions, and fluffy jasmine rice to make it a Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Bowl. Trust me, you will be hungry enough for a meal once you get a whiff of this eggplant business roasting in the oven.

good eggplant is all about the sauce

If you’re not familiar with oyster sauce (or want to hate it based on the name), consider this: Bon Appetit says oyster sauce is literally made from caramelized oyster juices and kinda-sorta resembles barbecue sauce, except with tons more umami. It does not taste fishy so, even if you’re not into oysters, you should probably give oyster sauce a try. And sambal oelek is just a super concentrated Asian chili sauce that can do some pretty heavy lifting in any recipe. The point here is to make a sauce that is basically magic for your taste buds and that is rich and tasty enough to mask eggplant’s boring, blah flavor.

eggplant on a roasting pan

roasted eggplant for the win

When ranting about how terrible eggplant is, we can’t leave out its weird, spongy texture. This actually works in our favor here because, once the eggplant is sliced into a zillion little half-moons, the absorbent flesh very willingly soaks up all those firecracker-y sweet and spicy notes of the sauce. But, the eggplant is still going to be rubbery to eat unless you roast the heck out of it. By that, I mean cook it in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, tossing it around halfway through. This, I promise you, will transform the eggplant’s odd texture into a creamy wonderland of goodness. Meanwhile, the outer surfaces of each slice get deliciously crispy and charred. Talk about a #glowup, ya’ll.

roasted eggplant on a sheet pan

make it a veggie bowl!

Once your eggplant, broccoli, and onion are sufficiently roasted, just add them to a bowl with warm rice and sprinkle on some tasty garnishes. Green onion is kind of a must, but basil, mint, and cilantro are all great too. Toasted sesame seeds? For sure. Honestly, your perfectly prepared eggplant deserves all the love you have to give. So, definitely spoon some dressed-up mayo on top, too. You and your eggplant have earned it.

*This post and recipe contain Amazon Affiliate links to some of the ingredients needed to create this flavor-bomb of a dish. If you click the links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission!

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Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Bowls

The best way to cook eggplant! Toss it in a sweet and spicy sauce and add some broccoli and red onion for a little variety. Roast it all in the oven until crisp and serve over rice with lots and lots of herbs, scallions, sesame seeds, and a little lime mayo if you like things extra creamy!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 big servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, lunch
  • Cuisine: Asian-inspired
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into quarters lengthwise, then into 1/2” slices
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 red onion, cut in half then sliced into 1/4” half moons
  • 4 TBS oyster sauce, divided
  • 2 TBS sambal oelek, divided
  • 4 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • non-stick spray
  • cooked rice, for serving
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • sliced scallions, for garnish
  • fresh herbs, for garnish (mint, basil, or cilantro are all great!))
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Lime Mayo sauce

  • 1/3 C kewpie mayo or regular mayo
  • lime juice, to taste (about 1 to 2 TBS is good)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat two sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together 2 TBS oyster sauce, 1 TBS sambal oelek, and 2 tsp sesame oil. Add the sliced eggplant, toss to coat, then spread it out on one of the oiled sheet pans.
  3. In the same bowl, combine the remaining 2 TBS oyster sauce, 1 TBS sambal oelek, and 2 tsp sesame oil. Add the broccoli florets and sliced onion, toss to coat, and spread it out on the second sheet pan.
  4. Transfer both sheet pans to the oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring the veggies and rotating the pans halfway through cooking. (I cooked the broccoli and onions a little longer b/c I like them well-charred but that’s up to you.)
  5. Meanwhile, combine the mayo and lime juice in a small bowl. (The lime juice is there for flavor but also to thin the mayo out. This matters if you’re the person who mixes the contents of their Sweet and Spicy Vegetable Bowls all together before eating (please be that person). You’ll be very happy to see that thin-yet-creamy mayo adequately coating all of your rice and roasted veg.)
  6. Once the veggies are done, scoop some cooked white or brown rice into bowls, pile on the roasted veg, add a spoonful or two of the lime mayo, then garnish with scallions, herbs, and toasted sesame seeds and enjoy! 

Keywords: eggplant recipe, what to do with oyster sauce, roasted vegetables

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