Darya Pino Rose

I'm Darya Rose (formerly Darya Pino) and this is my personal blog. I'm the author of Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, and creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME's 50 Best Websites. I'm also a neuroscience Ph.D, NYC foodist, former dieter, & soulmate to .

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How I got Kevin Rose to like eggplant

Thai eggplant

Eggplant isn't easy to love. It's often slimy, frequently bitter and can be heartbreakingly flavorless. But it sometimes just takes one great experience to make us reconsider.

My boyfriend, while always a good sport about it, has made it pretty clear that eggplant is not his favorite food. He says it's a texture thing. So I've avoided cooking it for most of the season until I knew I could do something special with it.

That chance came this past weekend when I found a bunch of delicious Thai ingredients at the farmers market. I have a Thai eggplant dish up my sleeve that is pretty spectacular, and one of its features is that the eggplant is pan fried in light oil, so doesn't get very slimy.

I usually make this dish with Thai basil, but that is no longer in season so I used fresh mojito mint and cilantro instead.

I served the eggplant with some brown rice and it was a huge success. If you prefer, it's even better served with rice noodles.

"I can honestly say this is the best eggplant I've ever had in my life." -Kevin Rose

Darya's Thai eggplant

(serves 2)


  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 small stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Thai chilies, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves plucked
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Fresh lime slices
  • 2 tbsp tea oil (coconut or olive oils also work)
  • Brown rice or cooked rice noodles

First, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and cut into half inch pieces. Sprinkle generously with kosher or sea salt and let sit while preparing other ingredients.

Heat oil in a pan until hot, add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add ginger, lemongrass, garlic, chilies and stir one minute. Add fish sauce and cook another 30 seconds. Add eggplant and stir.

Arrange eggplant in single layer in pan and cook until evenly browned, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. If the pan begins to get too dry, you can add another dash of oil, fish sauce or even soy sauce. When the eggplant is almost done, add the mint (or basil) and rice noodles if you're using them and cook until eggplant is done.

Remove pan from heat and stir in cilantro and squeeze on juice from 1/4 lime. Use the rest of the lime wedges and a few cilantro strands as garnish. Serve and enjoy.

Pairs great with Corona beer or dry white wines such as viognier. 

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Reader Comments (15)

For some really not so healthy fun with eggplant you can make fried eggplant: Peal and thinly slice the eggplant, press overnight to remove excess moisture. Bater in a egg and flour mix and fry on medium heat in a modest amount of bacon fat. They will almost taste like eggplant chips if cut thinly enough. And yes cooking in bacon fat is not on the healthy side of life, but it does taste awesome

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercraig

i was just lecturing a friend over dim sum about how japanese eggplants are superior to globes in every sense of the word. this looks great! one question- how hot did you let the pan get? was it more of a sear than a saute?

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteraubrey

This sounds like a great recipe! I've had spectacular eggplant at restaurants, but whenever I cook it, it turns out awful. I love Thai food, so I'm definitely going to try this. Beautiful photo by the way. The eggplant looks so creamy and delicious!

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

Looks delicious! Any suggestions for fish sauce substitutes?

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChana

@aubrey I let the pan get pretty hot, which is why I prefer tea or coconut oil (high smoke points). But because the dish is liquidy, I wouldn't call it a sear. I'd call the heat medium high.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarya

@Chana I've had vegan Thai food without fish sauce and think it is a much different and inferior experience. You can try soy sauce, but that will make this more a Chinese dish than a Thai dish. Fish sauce FTW!

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarya

@Natalie Thx! I took the pic with my iPhone and edited with this method http://daryapino.com/home/2010/9/29/iphone-photoshop-surprisingly-good-photos.html

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarya

This is such an interesting dish as an exposure to eggplant! My husband also repeatedly proclaims his dislike for eggplant (which I love). To get him to eat it, I end up making eggplant parm (but I bake the breaded eggplant), which seems to work. I'll definitely have to try this recipe to see if he'll accept another type of eggplant dish - either way, it looks great to me. Thanks!

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter(Mostly) Healthy Mom

You should make him eat Eggplant Parmesan, it is a lovely dish.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Darya, the eggplant dish in the photo you took looks quite tasty and I'm saying this having never had eggplant before. I'm glad that you found a way to make eggplant enjoyable for Kevin and perhaps one day I should try it and see if I actually like eggplant, as well.

Thanks for the recipe!


December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Looks great Daria, cant wait to give it a try. I'm moving to San Diego this month from Chicago so all this farmers market talk has given me all sorts of ideas...


December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris

I don't know much about eggplant, but I thought the skin can get leathery, no? Do you have to peel it before cooking? Are there seeds or "guts" inside that have to be removed?

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

@Doug Japanese eggplant is very thin skinned. No peeling or "gutting" necessary ;)

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarya

Why does anyone not like eggplant? What the heck is wrong with them? Just saying.

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrankieTheWaffle

I've also struggled with eggplant, so I will try this recipe. You've inspired me to learn to love the foods I've always hated, and that plan has been successful (I've been working on mushrooms and coconut), so I look forward to enjoying eggplant at some point. Thanks, as always, for your inspiration! :-)

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVirginia
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