Grilled Asian Eggplant with Hoisin and Vodka

(recipe, Andrew Schloss & David Joachim)


Asian eggplants are leaner, sweeter, and firmer than their more common Mediterranean counterparts. Their paper-thin skins don’t toughen during cooking, and their dense flesh browns beautifully, making them the definitive eggplant for grilling. There are several types of Asian eggplant. We prefer the Chinese type for its lavender skin and creamy white flesh; Japanese eggplant can also be used, but its flesh is more bitter.


  1. 1 lb. Chinese or Japanese eggplant
  2. ¼ cup olive oil
  3. 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  4. 2 Tbsp. vodka
  5. 1 medium tomato (about 8 ounces), cored and finely chopped
  6. 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  7. 1 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  10. Oil for coating grill screen


  1. Heat the grill as directed (see Note).
  2. Slice the eggplants lengthwise in ⅜-inch thick slices all the way to, but not through, the stem ends. Mix 2 tablespoons each of the olive oil, hoisin sauce, and vodka in a deep-sided plate. Fan the eggplant slices and turn in the sauce until thoroughly coated. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the tomato, cilantro, ginger, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and remaining olive oil in a separate bowl.
  4. Put the grill screen on the grill and coat with oil. Put the eggplant pieces on the screen, cover, and cook until browned and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the tomato mixture. Cover and keep warm for about 5 minutes to allow flavors to mingle.


You’ll need a grill screen and long-handled tongs for this grill recipe. If you have a gas grill, use direct heat set to medium-high (400 to 450 degrees) and be sure the grate is clean and oiled. If you’re using a charcoal grill, use direct heat (the coals should have a lightly ashy appearance) and a 12-inch-by-12-inch bed of coals (about 3 dozen coals); the grate should be clean, oiled, and on the lowest setting. Finally, if you’re grilling over wood, follow the same rules as for charcoal, but make sure the wood is about 3 to 4 inches deep and the grate is set about 3 inches above the fire.