Garlic Eggplant Side Dish (Gaji-namul)

This is an incredibly easy-to-make Korean side dish that takes minimal effort. I actually learned how to make this dish through another food blogger, Maangchi, who is an AMAZING source of Korean dishes and cooking techniques. Many of her recipes convert easily to a gluten-free lifestyle.

This recipe is already a fairly easy one to make, but rather than take out a stove-top steamer, boil water, and watch the time and water levels to make sure it steams well, a way to make cooking this dish even easier is to steam the eggplant through the microwave.

Microwave-steaming is kind of a cheat way to cook, but it works just as well as stovetop steaming and arguably retains more nutrients than the traditional method. With the eggplant steaming in a microwave, all you have to do with this dish is mix together the seasoning sauce and wait for the microwave timer to complete. Then mix the two part together for a delicious vegetable dish.

steamed eggplant
Steaming eggplant in the microwave is a quick and low effort method that also retains nutrients well
Eggplant pieces in garlic sauce
Torn up pieces of eggplant pick up the sauce better than knife-cut.

To adapt this recipe to a gluten free diet, the only ingredients to watch out for is the soy sauce and fish sauce. For fish sauce, make sure to buy one with safe ingredients (I always get this Lucky Star brand because its ingredient list is simple (it also doesn’t contain shrimp, whereas others do, and my partner cannot have shrimp), or just omit and replace with a pinch of salt instead. Otherwise, use a gluten free tamari for the soy sauce and you should be good.

eggplant side dish

Garlic Eggplant Side Dish

An easy-to make vegetarian side-dish with strong garlic flavors
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4


  • 1-2 long purple eggplant Chinese or Japanese varietals are best because of their quick-cooking and sweetness, but other eggplants work too
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 diced green onions
  • 1 TBSP gluten free tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce omit if vegetarian and add 1/4 tsp salt instead
  • 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes or powder)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP toasted white sesame seeds crushed


  • Cut the eggplant into 2-in length, then cut each piece in half.
  • Place the pieces in a microwave safe container with 1-2 TBSP of water. Place container with the lid slightly ajar into the microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is steaming in the microwave, in a separate bowl, mix your seasoning ingredients together.
  • When the eggplant is dont, remove from the microwave and let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes until it's cool enough to handle.
  • With your hands, tear the eggplant lengthwise into bite-sized strips and add the strips of eggplant to the bowl with the seasoning sauce.
  • Mix together and serve. Alternatively you can store this side dish in the fridge for 3-5 days.


This recipe was adapted from Maangchi’s Gaji-namul recipe on her website. She offers a more traditional way to make this via the stovetop steaming method. Definitely check out her website since she has a lot of Korean recipe videos you can watch as well! 
Keyword banchan, eggplant, namul

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