food 4 tots

Japanese eggplants with sweet and sour sauce


Colours don’t just make our food look more appealing but also play a vital role in a healthy diet. Thus, the more colours in our diet, the healthier we will be.

Eating fruits and vegetables of different colours provide important vitamins, minerals, fibre and natural plant compounds known as, phytochemicals, that may help protect us from major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Dr. David Heber, author of “What Color is Your Diet?” and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, recommends a diet with fruits and vegetables across the spectrum of color. (Source: CBS News)

You may sometimes have difficulty in getting the right balance but you definitely can’t go wrong if you eat a combination of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day – they can be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. This is the approach I always follow since I started to plan my family’s meals.

Other reading reference: fruit and vegetable benefits

Eggplant (also known as brinjals / aubergine) falls into the purple colour group. Even though purple is my son’s favourite colour, he had not shown much interest in eggplant dishes. Recently I found an eggplant recipe which I used to successfully convince my son to enjoy eggplants, without having to camouflage the eggplants in my cooking. This method gave the cooked eggplants a crunchier texture and more tasty with the coating of a thickened sweet and sauce sauce. I had modified the recipe by adding minced meat, onion and spring onion, thus giving this dish a more enhanced flavour and wholesome value. If your child doesn’t like to eat soggy eggplants, this is another highly recommended recipe you can opt for.

Japanese eggplants with sweet and sour sauce 2

Recipe adapted and modified from The Sugar Bar.

Serve: 2-3

2-3 Japanese eggplants or 1 local eggplant
60g minced meat
¼ onion (chopped)
Sesame seeds and spring onions for garnishing (optional)

Cooking sauce (mix all the ingredients together):
3 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
3 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil


  1. Marinate minced meat with a dash of light soya sauce, sugar and cornflour for at least half an hour.
  2. Slice eggplants lengthwise and immediately soak in salted water (about 20 minutes), drain and pat dry with kitchen towel. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the cooking sauce.
  4. Heat wok with oil. Pan-fry the eggplants until they are lightly brown and cooked but not too soft. Dish up and set aside.
  5. Heat wok with oil again. Sauté onion until slightly brown and fragrant. Add in marinated minced meat. Do not stir fry immediately. Let it cook for a while until it is slightly caramelized. Turn it over and break it slightly. Let it cook for a while until caramelized. This will increase the aroma of the minced meat. Reduce the heat to low and start breaking up into small piece. (I learnt the tip here)
  6. Return the cooked eggplants into the wok and mix well.
  7. Reduce the heat and add in the cooking sauce. If it starts bubbling furiously, lower heat again. Let it simmer until all the cooking sauce is thickened and absorbed into the eggplants.
  8. Dish up. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve with rice.


  1. If the eggplants turn soggy before the sauce is properly thickened, dish up the eggplants and minced meat. Leave the remaining sauce in the wok and continue to simmer until it is thickened. Pour the sauce over the dish.
  2. Most eggplants can be eaten either with or without their skin. Thus, I personally prefer to retain the skin during cooking because the eggplant skin contains an anthocyanin phytonutrient called nasunin. (note: nasunin is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps protect cell membranes from damage). (Source: WHFoods)
  3. Soaking eggplants in salted water is to reduce its naturally bitter taste.

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  1. orinskitchen says:

    I like eggplants, especially Balado eggplants,Minang/Padang cooking style-Indonesia. Trying your recipe tonight coz my parents in law are coming from Jambi today. Thanks for giving me idea what I am cooking for dinner…:)

    • food-4tots says:

      Orinskitchen: I haven’t tried eggplants with Indonesian cooking style. Do share with me if you have posted the recipe in your blog. Btw, hope your parents-in-law enjoy my way of cooking eggplants. 😉

  2. I love chinese eggplant!! I can walop with 2 bowl of rice!! eeerrhhh…is there any different bewteen japanese eggplant and regular local eggplant?

  3. Little Inbox says:

    I don’t cook egg plant that frequent. I’m impressed with its purple skin. 🙂

    • food-4tots says:

      Little Inbox: Not your favourite? I always can’t resist myself when I see those lovely purplish eggplants on sale. No matter how I will grab some back first. Hehehe!

  4. Alice says:

    You are right! Colour do make a difference! Nice little eggplant!

  5. gattina says:

    what a beautiful and professional-looking web site!
    love every ingredient you use in this recipe. for me, the eggplant soggier, merrier 😀

  6. mycookinghut says:

    Looks like a lovely dish! I have not made aubergine this way! Photos are nicely captured!

  7. I used to feel reluctance of eating eggplant when I was small, due to eaten a terribly cooked one. It took me years to accept it back. If the cook have this recipe years ago, I wouldn’t have to avoid this delicious dish for so long.

  8. Kevin says:

    This sounds like a tasty way to enjoy eggplant.

  9. noobcook says:

    wow! This looks so colourful and appetizing man. Your photos are so beautiful =)

  10. Gertrude says:

    I too love eggplant too especially the Japanese type. What a beautiful dish. May I know how you keep the eggplant skin stay purple after cooking it? Mine turn brown.

    • food-4tots says:

      Gertrude: Try not to pan-fry the eggplants for too long. Can the eggplants you bought not purplish enough? Some of mine also turned brown as shown in the photo because I took the photo 1/2 hour later after fetching my son frm school. Maybe u can try LCOM’s suggestion(below)to bake the eggplant. 😉

  11. Dora says:

    Looks good. 🙂
    I like eggplants dishes but those available outside are usually very oily. 🙁

  12. Selba says:

    Had eggplants for Sunday’s lunch last week but I cooked it only with red chilis…. ah should use this recipe coz’ it looks so delicious!

  13. We followed the same approach, eat with colors! Now, I need to buy more eggplant and eat because I hardly have purple color veggie. I also posted an eggplant recipe last week which used the oven to tenderize it instead of frying it in oil. Definitely not soggy and retain its shape, you can try that. 🙂

  14. Looks like the perfect accompaniment for a bowl of rice. I’ve always thought that people who don’t like eggplant just haven’t had it prepared properly.

  15. jane says:

    This looks lovely for dinner tonight. I may have missed it but I don’t see cornflour in the ingredients list. How much should I use in the marinade for the meat?

    • food-4tots says:

      Jane: You are right, the cornflour is not in the ingredient list as the amount used is not substantial. Maybe 1/2 – 1 tsp will be sufficient. Hope you will like it! Happy trying! 😉

  16. jane says:

    I tried this recipe and it is delicious. The eggplant soaks up the tasy marinade and every bite is good. I used pork for the minced meat but next time, I think I will use shrimp. Thanks

    • food-4tots says:

      Jane: Tks a lot for your feedback. Your suggestion is new to me but sounds interesting. Hope you will share with me the outcome after trying it out. 😉

  17. lilian says:

    Can u substitute rice vinegar for chinese black vinegar? And would the addition of some small dried shrimps go with this dish?

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