Garlic eggplant - that beloved staple of Chinese American restaurants - is simple to make well at home. The basic technique used is the stir-fry. To make an excellent stir-fry, one needs extremely high heat, a frying pan with a lot of surface area (so choose a wide frying pan if you do not have a wok), attention, and the willingness to deglaze a pan. What is deglazing a pan? Using a liquid plus a spoon or spatula to loosen the delicious caramelized bits from the pan and make a splendid sauce.
Select 1.5-2 lbs of eggplant (firm and shiny). Wash the eggplant, remove the stem, and chop into 1" cubes. If the eggplant is the Italian variety (wide rather than long and thin), toss with 1 tsp. salt and allow to drain 20 minutes in a colander, then rinse well and proceed. If the eggplant is of the Asian variety (thin and often smaller), then no salting or draining is needed.
Peel and mince 6 cloves garlic. Peel, halve, and slice into thin crescents 1 small onion.
In a small bowl, make the deglazing liquid by whisking together 1/3 cup vegetable broth, 2 TB tamari, 1 TB apple cider vinegar, and 1 TB maple syrup.
Over very high heat, heat 1 TB toasted sesame oil and 1 TB safflower oil until the oil begins to ripple with heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and eggplant. Stirring regularly, stir-fry until the eggplant softens, 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and 1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes (optional) and stir-fry 1 more minute.
Add the deglazing mixture, stirring well, and scraping any bits off the pan. Cook 2-3 more minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Serve with hot rice or noodles. Enjoy!