Thai spicy eggplant with basil

During the two years I lived in Thailand barely a week went by where I wasn’t surprised by a new food “discovery”. Indeed, it seems every village has its own range of dishes unseen elsewhere, and while travelling around my tastebuds had boundless opportunities for sampling new sensations.

This dish is my take on super-spicy eggplant chilli paste I once had with sticky rice from a roadside stall – it blew my socks off, and I’ve spent the last several years honing my version to match my memory of that flavour 😀

Flavour: Spicy

Serves: 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Thai eggplants, or 3-4 smaller ones (the eggplants you need are the long ones – may also be identified as Japanese eggplant or Lebanese eggplant)
  • small bunch of Thai basil – leaves only
  • 4 bird’s eye chillies, sliced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • splash of unflavoured oil, such as sunflower oil

To serve:

This dish is best served with;

  • Thai sticky rice
  • Steamed or blanched vegetables:
    • snake beans, cut into 4cm pieces
    • cabbage, cut into chunks
  • Raw vegetables:
    • cucumber slices/chunks
    • lettuce leaves
    • snake beans, cut into 4cm pieces
    • cabbage, cut into chunks

Directions:

  • Cut eggplants lenthways, and then into chunks
    • it doesn’t matter how big or small your eggplant chunks are, but to give you a feel for how this might turn out, here’s a couple of options;
      • smaller chunks – say, half-centimetere semicircles – will go mushy, rendering a dish that’s like a chilli paste (this is my preferred option, especially when mopped up with sticky rice and chunks of crisp, fresh cucumber)
      • bigger chunks – say, 4cm-long chunks – will result in a firmer stir-fried veggie dish
  • Place eggplant chunks in bowl, and rub with salt – leave aside for about 10 minutes
  • Wash salt off eggplant, and strain off excess water
  • Fry eggplant for 5 minutes in wok with a splash of oil on medium-high heat, stirring regularly
  • Add garlic and chillies, stir in, and cook for 2 more minutes
  • Add palm sugar and soy sauce, stir, reduce heat to low, and cook for another 10 minutes or until eggplant is melt-in-your-mouth tender
  • Stir in Thai basil, and remove from heat
  • Serve immediately with sticky rice and an array of raw and cooked vegetables

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