A twist on our family favorite mapo tofu (Japanese tofu in a garlicky "meat" sauce), made with strips of eggplant in place of tofu.
Trim off the stem end of the eggplant and quarter the eggplant lengthwise. Slice the long spears of eggplant into finger-lengths. Saute the pieces of eggplant in a large dry skillet, turning the pieces occasionally, until they start to brown. (Could also use a bit of sesame oil in the pan if you would like, but it's not necessary.) Remove the pan from the heat and set the eggplant aside.
Heat the 1/4 of water in a wok over low heat and add the green onions, ginger, garlic and toubanjiang (use 2 teaspoons if you want spicier mapo tofu). Raise the heat to high heat and stir-fry everything for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add additional water as needed to prevent burning.
Add the meatless ground and stir-fry until it is heated through. Then add the vegetable broth, mirin, and soy sauce.
Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the eggplant and gently stir it so that it becomes coated in the sauce.
When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Stir the cornstarch together with the 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl, then add the starch to the wok and stir it in until it is mixed well.
Continue to let the sauce simmer until it thickens. Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil. Serve immediately over hot steamed rice.