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
- 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.