Grilled Eggplant (with Coconut Sauce)

Grilled eggplant is a healthy and simple side dish that makes dinner on a budget easy. Crispy on the outside with a soft and creamy interior, it’s proof that a side dish can be the star of the show.

aubergine sear marks on grill

This recipe originally hails from Fiji and while coconut might not seem like the obvious thing to pair with eggplant or aubergine, it adds a beautifully delicate and sweet layer to the earthy tastes of the grilled vegetable.

This appetizer can be rustled up in just five or ten minutes, and will go well with almost any grilled dish you can think of.

Grilled eggplant has a savory, smoky flavor thanks to the char from the grill. Grilled eggplant also has a neutral enough flavor to absorb the taste of marinades and seasonings, which makes it a good choice for saucy dishes.

I added a little sprinkle of chili to it because I like a subtle kick of spice, but if that’s not your thing then feel free to ditch that altogether. I recommend trying it the first time you make this though.

Simply chuck the slices on the grill, coat with a tiny bit of olive oil, and then serve up with a good helping of our coconut milk, lemon juice and chili sauce.

grilled eggplant on plate with olive oil dressing

Sweating Eggplant

Many eggplant recipes call for sweating the vegetable before using it.

“Sweating” refers to the process of drawing out some of the eggplant’s bitter flavors before cooking it. This makes the flavor better. Sweating the eggplant also draws out some of the moisture present in the vegetable.

Many people dislike eggplant thanks to the strong bitter flavor but sweating helps to counter that flavor and make eggplant more neutral. It also draws out the moisture, which makes it easier to grill or stir-fry the eggplant without worrying about the vegetable getting soggy.

To sweat the eggplant, cut the vegetable into slices. Then, cover with generous pinches of salt and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. You will see that the eggplant is ready to cook once the moisture starts pooling on the surface. Wipe down the slices and cook normally.

Do You Peel Eggplant Before Grilling?

You can save yourself the trouble of an extra step when grilling eggplant—you don’t have to peel the skin. Eggplant skin is perfectly edible and can be quite tender and tasty when it’s grilled. The skin also helps the eggplant slices retain their structure even after grilling. 

The only exception is if you are using a larger, tougher eggplant. Then, you may want to peel the skin because even with grilling and sweating it is too tough to eat. To avoid needing to peel the eggplant, use smaller baby eggplants with tender skins.

Serving Ideas

Grilled eggplant is a great side dish for barbecues, festive meals, and more, and it goes along with many dishes.

Grilled eggplant allows meaty main dishes to shine. You can serve it with steak or a good tenderloin. For a surf-n-turf variety, serve grilled shrimp as well.

If you want to keep the meal vegetarian-friendly, grilled eggplant goes well with other grilled vegetables for a medley. You can also serve it with grilled tofu.

Finally, grilled eggplant goes well with many sauces such as chunky salsas and chimichurri sauce.

grilled eggplant on plate with olive oil dressing

Grilled Eggplant with Coconut Sauce

Grilled eggplant is a healthy and simple side dish that makes dinner on a budget easy. Crispy on the outside with a soft and creamy interior, it's proof that a side dish can be the star of the show.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large eggplants sliced
  • ¾ can coconut milk
  • 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 green chili very finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • vegetable oil
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the grill pan until it is very hot
  • Place the aubergine slices on the grill, brush with oil then grill on one side for 4-5 minutes
  • Turn the slices, brush with more oil and continue to cook for a further 4-5 minutes
  • Meanwhile, place the lemon juice, coconut milk, onions, tomatoes, chili and salt in a small mixing bowl and blend well
  • Cut the cooked eggplant slices into strips, place in a serving dish and pour the coconut milk mixture over the top. Serve immediately