Roasted eggplant with an Asian twist. This is a luscious side dish full of spicy-sweet flavour and ready to punch its weight with your main course.
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
Spicy sweet kick.
Simple to make.
Plus good looks too.
Hmm…I think they are 5 solid reasons why you will love this Roasted Asian eggplant with gochujang glaze.
I have always been a big fan of nasu dengaku, a Japanese style miso-glazed eggplant. When cooked perfectly, the texture of the eggplant literally melts in your mouth. I definitely wanted to recreate that texture with my roasted eggplant.
It’s a sin not to, really.
What about flavouring? Did we want to go Asian, like miso again? Or we try Italian with a balsamic glaze?
I felt like something a little sweeter than miso which balsamic would be the perfect candidate, but I wanted more punch. So with a tub of gochujang in the fridge, I experimented.
The result of mixing gochujang, kecap manis, soy sauce and brown sugar together was amazing. The glaze was spicy, sweet and sticky and absorbed by the roasted eggplant so well. With toasted sesame seeds, spring onion and coriander, this is a delicious Asian eggplant side dish.
Different Types of Eggplant
Eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables but strangely enough, not a big part of my childhood. I believe it is one of those vegetables that you either like or don’t. And my mum didn’t. Even though China is the biggest producer of eggplant these days, my mum didn’t use much of it in her Cantonese cooking or Asian sides.
Guess I am now catching up with all the missed moments of eggplant in my childhood. Ha.
Also known as aubergine in Europe and brinjal in Southeast Asia, there are three main varieties of eggplant – common, dwarf and snake. However, different cultivators will produce fruit with different sizes, shapes and colours.
The most common eggplant you will find here in Australia is the globe eggplant, egg-shaped with glossy purple skin and spongy white flesh. Globe eggplants have a “meaty” texture so can be used to substitute meat in dishes like parmigiana and lasagne.
Chinese eggplants are also popular and great for flash frying, sautéeing and grilling. They are longer in shape with light purple skin. There are fewer seeds than globe eggplants; hence are less bitter than globe eggplants.
Another interesting type of eggplant is Thai eggplant. This is a small round variety with green/white or purple/white stripy skin. Due to the size, they are more bitter than others as there are more seeds. They are typically used in Thai and Sri-Lankan curries.
Even though I haven’t seen them before but some eggplants are white in colour! They can be used very much like globe eggplants. I would love to find out if they taste the same too!
How to Cook Eggplant
Eggplant is a versatile ingredient, and it is used in many different cooking styles across the globe. From fast Asian eggplant sauté, baked with breadcrumbs, pureed into an earthy dip, deep fried as a fat chip, or stewed in a spicy curry, the dishes are endless!
My favourite way to cook eggplant is to roast it. The slow cooking process creates a golden outer layer with soft, luscious flesh. You can then eat as is, layer with sauces or even throw into curries. Makes my mouth water now.
There is no harm in eating eggplant raw, but it does your taste buds no favours. Best to cook eggplant before eating.
Also, eggplant can taste bitter when cooked, so many recipes will recommend you salt the eggplant first or remove the seeds to reduce the bitterness.
However, the best way to avoid bitterness is to ensure you have fresh eggplant and eat it straight away. The older the eggplant, the more bitter it becomes.
We love using eggplant in our salads that also span across different flavours:
Flavour/Texture: Roasted eggplant literally melts in your mouth. The texture is soft and silky. As the eggplant roasts, the flesh is the perfect vehicle to absorb all the delicious gochujang glaze flavours.
Spicy, savoury with added caramel sweetness from the brown sugar, I can say this roasted Asian eggplant combination is addictive.
Ease: Literally, prepare and leave in oven. There is not a lot of the work required to prepare this spicy Asian side dish.
Time: The majority of the time spent on this recipe is roasting the eggplant in the oven, which means you can go and do other things and prepare for the rest of the meal. It is time well spent, I must say.
Eggplant: I used one large globe eggplant for this recipe, but you can choose two smaller ones instead. Other eggplant varieties can be roasted, too; however, I like the large surface globe eggplants provide when cut and can absorb the spicy gochujang glaze.
Sea salt: Even though the gochujang glaze has soy sauce, it is important to season the eggplant well during roasting.
Olive oil: To help with the roasting process, use good quality olive oil.
Gochujang paste: Available in most large supermarkets or your local Asian grocery store. Different brands do produce varying heat levels. Do check before adding to the glaze if you prefer less spicy.
Kecap manis: Sweet aromatic soy sauce that is darker in colour and thicker in consistency. Popular condiment in Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean cooking.
Soy sauce: Light soy sauce is what we need in this recipe. For a gluten free option, you can use tamari.
Sesame oil: Sesame oil adds a nutty fragrance to the overall balance of the gochujang glaze and compliments the toasted sesame seeds.
Brown sugar: For the gochujang glaze, I prefer to use brown sugar or palm sugar over white sugar as it adds depth and caramel notes to the finish.
Sesame seeds: Not only for appearance, but toasted sesame seeds also add another level of umami flavour.
Spring onion and coriander: This is not only for garnish but to create a little freshness and peppery flavours with the roasted eggplant.
Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.
Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a small knife and score the eggplant in a diamond pattern.
Place eggplant cut side up on a baking tray and brush eggplant with olive oil. Then season with sea salt.
Roast in oven for 10 minutes or lightly golden brown.
While eggplant is roasting in oven, make the gochujang glaze.
Add gochujang, kecap manis, soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar to a small mixing bowl. You can adjust the heat of the glaze by adding more or less gochujang. Whisk until well combined.
Lightly toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden brown.
Wash and roughly chop coriander.
Finely cut spring onion in small rounds.
After 10 minutes, remove eggplant from oven and add a generous coating of gochujang glaze. Keep about 2 tablespoons of glaze to use before serving. Make sure the gochujang glaze seeps into the shallow cuts you made earlier.
Return eggplant to oven and continue to roast until flesh is tender and soft and there is a golden brown char on top.
When eggplant is done, remove from oven. Use remaining gochujang glaze and spread over the top. This will give the roasted eggplant a lovely glossy look, and more sauce will seep into the cuts.
Scatter toasted sesame seeds, chopped coriander and spring onion on top to serve.
Variations and Substitutions
Gluten free option: Substitute soy sauce for tamari and find a gluten free brand of kecap manis if you need a gluten free recipe. Also, double check the gochujang paste is gluten free. Traditional recipes do not include wheat, but some commercial recipes will use wheat to bulk up the paste.
Other gochujang uses: This sweet-spicy glaze would be great with other grilled vegetables like zucchini/courgette, bell peppers, red onions, wombok or flat mushrooms. Alternatively, you can try with proteins like roast chicken or grilled tofu as well.
Gochujang replacement: If you don’t have gochujang, you can substitute with miso paste and change the glaze. Miso paste is salty enough, so you don’t need to add soy sauce, and I would swap the brown sugar with honey. Miso glazed eggplant is a very popular Japanese side dish called nasu dengaku.
Spring onion / Coriander: If not big green herb fans, you can omit either one or both. I love the added texture and freshness spring onion and coriander brings to the dish but can be taken out if you don’t like either one of them.
Great Mains for This Side Dish
Maple Soy Shrimp: This recipe could not be easier or more flavourful. It’s a simple weeknight dinner that comes together in 30 minutes. Shrimp marinated in garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes, finished with a squeeze of fresh orange juice that really brings it to life. Serve up with this Roasted Asian Eggplant with Gochujang Glaze side dish for the perfect meal!
Instant Pot sesame chicken: Dump and start Instant Pot sesame chicken cooked in a rich honey soy sauce. This Chinese classic is made so easy in the Instant Pot, perfect for a busy mid-week dinner and definitely much better than a take out! The Roasted Eggplant will complement the chicken perfectly and give it a little it of spice.
Marmalade roast duck: This citrusy roast duck can be eaten with rice or noodles, and the lightly spicy Asian eggplants is exactly what it needs for a complete meal. With both dishes having touches of sweet, they will complement each other in every mouthful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gochujang is a Korean cooking staple. It is a red chilli paste made from glutinous rice, fermented soybean paste, salt and sugar. A thick, sticky condiment that delivers a spicy kick with a deep, pungent, savoury flavour.
You can purchase gochujang in supermarkets or Asian grocery stores. It stores well in the fridge, so there is no harm in having a large tub at hand!
There are many other uses for gochujang sauce. Gochujang forms the base for many Korean dishes like hot pot stews, bulgogi sauce, ssamjang dipping sauce and Korean fried chicken.
I love using gochujang not only in Korean recipes but also to marinate meats like ribs, chicken and even hamburger mix.
If you like gochujang, try our other dishes:
Gochujang Chicken Salad with Noodles and Tofu
Spicy Roasted Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
When selecting an eggplant, look for tight, glossy and unblemished skin. The eggplant should feel heavy for its size and free from any brownish spots.
If you wish to eat this side dish hot, you can’t prepare in advance, but if you don’t mind room temperature, you can prepare earlier as the eggplant will hold up.
Alternatively, you can roast the eggplant until nearly done and then reheat in the oven for a few minutes. Add final glaze and scatter spring onions, coriander and sesame seeds just before serving.
I loved adding this Roasted Asian Eggplant to a table filled with Asian sides and devouring with a bowl of hot, steamed rice. The flavours and textures melded together so well. A fantastic recipe to add to your repertoire of Asian sides.
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Roasted Asian Eggplant with Gochujang Glaze
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- Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.
- Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a small knife and score the eggplant in a diamond pattern. Place eggplant cut side up on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Then season with sea salt. Roast in oven for 10 minutes or lightly golden brown.
- Make the gochujang glaze by adding gochujang, kecap manis, soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar to a small mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Lightly toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden brown.
- Wash and roughly chop coriander.
- Finely cut spring onion in small rounds.
- After 10 minutes, remove eggplant from oven and add a generous coating of gochujang glaze. Keep about 2 tablespoons of glaze to use before serving.
- Return to oven and continue to roast until flesh to tender and soft and there is a golden brown char on top.
- When eggplant is done, remove from oven. Use remaining gochujang glaze and spread over the top.
- Scatter toasted sesame seeds, chopped coriander and spring onion on top to serve.
- Substitute soy sauce for tamari and find a gluten free brand of kecap manis if you need a gluten free recipe. Also, double check the gochujang paste is gluten free. Traditional recipes do not include wheat, but some commercial recipes will use wheat to bulk up the paste.
- Gojuchang glaze would be great with other grilled vegetables like zucchini/courgette, bell peppers, red onions, wombok or flat mushrooms. Alternatively, you can try with proteins like roast chicken or grilled tofu as well.
- If you don’t have gochujang, you can substitute it with miso paste and change the glaze. Miso paste is salty enough, so you don’t need to add soy sauce, and I would swap the brown sugar with honey. Miso glazed eggplant is a very popular Japanese side dish called nasu dengaku.
- You can omit either spring onions or coriander, or both. I love the added texture and freshness spring onion and coriander brings to the dish but can be taken out if you don’t like either one of them.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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