This roasted and caramelized Char Siu Style Eggplant Recipe has the deep sweet and savory flavors of Chinese roasted pork, but just happens to be super healthy!
Char Siu Style Roasted Eggplant
If there was one thing I learned while living in Hong Kong it was that you don’t mess with the Char Siu. Sure, you can put it in buns or add it to noodle soup or serve it over rice. But the charred, savory and sweet Chinese pork is already perfect after being treated with a few simple ingredients and roasted. No need for a complex dipping sauce or a grocery list 30 items long to make this already delicious pork preparation ready to devour. It was with that simple ideal in mind that I set out to create a recipe with the spirit and flavor-balance of the original char siu, but with a member of the veggie kingdom as the main ingredient. I had my reservations. Could a vegetable deliver on the same delicious promise as the pork? When I took my first luscious bite of this char siu style roasted eggplant, I immediately realized all my worry had been for nothing. This veggie dish was a winner!
Lately, I’ve been really into lowering our meat intake. While we haven’t wiped it out completely, it has been eye-opening that many of the dishes I truly love can be made vegetarian without sacrificing our satisfaction at dinnertime. I used oyster sauce in the marinade but, if you’re looking to make this dish truly vegetarian, you can easily substitute it for mushroom-based vegetarian oyster sauce. Eggplant turned out to be a perfect alternative to pork in this case. With the time spent marinating and roasting in the oven, the eggplant became unbelievably soft and had a velvety, luxurious texture. The similarity to fatty pieces of char siu pork was uncanny! The biggest difference is that you can eat this eggplant dish everyday and not worry about the fat content. Healthy ftw!
The literal translation of char siu from Cantonese is ‘fork roast’. And while its origins are undoubtedly Chinese, many Asian cultures have their own version of char siu. I got very familiar with mu daeng in Thailand – and char siew rice while in Singapore. The most well known Asian version of char siu (in the West at least) is probably the rolled and braised chāshū which is the ubiquitous pork served in Japanese ramen. The fact that there are so many variations of the same dish gave me confidence that the flavor would translate well when making a vegetarian dish. I’m so glad I tried!
This char siu style roasted eggplant was a big hit – gone almost as soon as it hit the table. If you’re looking for the unmistakable flavor of Chinese roast pork, but want to keep it healthier and lighter this summer, you can’t go wrong with this tasty veggie version!
Other simple, delicious meat-free Asian recipes:
- General Tso Tofu
- Vegetarian Chirashizushi
- Sauteed Eggplant with Spicy Miso Sauce
- Vegan Dan Dan Noodles
- Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba Style
Did you like this Char Siu Style Roasted Eggplant Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Char Siu Style Roasted Eggplant
This baked and caramelized Char Siu Style Roasted Eggplant Recipe has the deep sweet and savory flavors of Chinese roasted pork, but just happens to be super healthy!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Side dish
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 pound large eggplant (sliced into ½-inch pieces)
- 2 stalk scallions (thinly sliced)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- Mix all ingredients for the marinade.
- Place eggplant slices in marinade and let sit for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400, and place eggplant slices on a baking sheet covered in non-stick foil or parchment paper.
- Roast eggplant for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender.
- Top with sliced scallions and serve immediately.
Char Siu Eggplant will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days, but is best when eaten immediately after cooking. If making this dish completely vegan, use mushroom based vegetarian oyster sauce.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 134
- Sugar: 21.4 g
- Sodium: 599.8 mg
- Fat: 0.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 31.3 g
- Fiber: 8.8 g
- Protein: 3.9 g
- Cholesterol: 0.2 mg
Keywords: recipe, vegetarian, appetizer
I made this, substituting maple syrup for the honey (and obviously used the veg oyster sauce option) to make it completely vegan. Was great, and easy.
Then I made a second batch of the exact same sauce (when doing this again I’ll just make a double batch of marinade to begin with and use whatever the eggplant doesn’t absorb, but I wanted to try the original recipe as described first before modifying it too much). I added a tablespoon of cornstarch slurried into 2 Tbsp vegetable broth, and sauteed the scallions in it until it thickened up, chopped up the roasted eggplant (and since I had it around, I added a little bit of chopped five-spice tofu, probably about 3oz), folded that all together, and used that as the filling in char siu bao. Turned out amazing.
This was freaking delicious and my new favorite way to eat eggplant. I did spray my sheet pan with oil and then sprayed the top of the eggplant because that’s the way I’m used to roasting things. I had two eggplants so I doubled the marinade and it was perfect. Thanks so much for a great recipe!
Wonderful Valerie! Thank you for sharing 🙂
I love char sui but never thought of making it with eggplant. What a great healthy alternative!
Oh my gosh! This is such a fantastic idea! My sister and I are from Hong Kong and grew up eating Char Siu! Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing this!!!!
Thank you Zoe! I lived in Hong Kong for 3 years and love the food scene there! Let me know what you think and if you would make any changes to it, I’d love to get your opinion on this!
This eggplant looks incredibly delicious! I love eggplant, but I only eat it roasted. This recipe is a nice change! So full of flavor!
Thank you Bethany!
I can’t find veggie oyster sauce, can I just omit it?