Thai Basil Eggplant

Guys! I’m stressed! I have been secretly munching on chocolate all week at work, thanks to the stash displayed on my coworker’s desk. It’s true magic how my hand can reach 3 desks away and come back with limitless sugar and consequential sugar crashes all under a cloak of invisibility. Oh, and the magic happens a lot more when barbaric tons of stress weigh down my mind. Should I feel special? Or just disgusted with my lack of self control?

The fact is we are moving. And BOY what an eventful move it is going to be, considering we don’t actually have a home lined up yet. Heck, not even a clue what area we should move to. Yup, we like to do things backwards out in these parts. In my experience that’s where adventure, excitement, and overwhelming bouts of anxiety can sneak up behind you and knock your knucklebrain around until the fuzzy yellow birdies come dancing gleefully in your vision. Fun for everyone!

In all seriousness, we are cutting out of the apartment a bit early and staying with my sister-in-law for a few weeks. I’m telling you this now because: a) I AM OVERWHELMED and it is likely to come out in my posts, and b) the posts themselves may become few and far between for a tiny portion of the great expanse of time that encompasses the universe’s existence (that’s my way of saying a few weeks isn’t that long, right?). Fortunately, Beena has a brightly-lit, cheerful and spacious kitchen, so hopefully I can settle in there comfortably enough.  I’m not keen on being out of my own space so grant me my adjustment period please.I may have mentioned that in our near future a great series of changes are upon us. Obviously one of those changes is this move.  I realize my cryptic ramblings about sudden vacating seems suspicious, but once the dust clouds settle and stop clouding my sanity, I’ll share all.  For now, suffice it to say life is a big ball o’ stress and murkiness. When does life solidify beneath my feet? When do I actually feel like I’m making solid steps into the future, and not just well-thought-out steps that tap the unknown delicately before planting a foot down? We surround ourselves with ideas, dreams, and goals, but when do we discover that they don’t linger in a void but shatter the glass wall keeping them from our reality?

It gets too frustrating to think about all the x’s and y’s that have yet to be determined. That’s why I will find myself in the kitchen sometimes. Even when we have ample food in the fridge. I will find myself planning to go to a local farmers market. I will take a gander at the select offerings to be had. I will walk away with the earthy aroma of basil blossoming around me and some fresh yellow long beans. And I will decide on a whim to make Thai basil eggplant.

That’s how this recipe came to be, so perhaps we should thank the universe for dropping me in a caliginous tundra, my only path to freedom being the scent of herbs and spices. Three cheers for the burden of change! Woo hoo!  I don’t mind so much, I love me my Thai flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant (or preferably 3 japanese eggplants), chopped*
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
  • ½ cup long yellow beans, trimmed
  • 3 red of green chilis (small!), finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced (or 2 tbsp garlic paste)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Sauce:
    • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • ¾ cup water
    • 2 tsp chili powder (optional)
    • 1-2 tsp cornstarch, diluted in 3 tbsp cold water

*if using a large (Mediterranean) eggplant, I recommend roasting it for a 10-15 minutes to soften it first.  I find that cooking large eggplants, even when chopped, takes a long time.  The rawness of the eggplant doesn’t seem to want to leave without prepping it somehow, say with roasting or sprinkling with salt beforehand to suck out the water/moisture.  If you end up roasting it entirely by mistake, so it’s nearly all cooked through, then you need not fry the eggplant first, as the directions below suggest. NO worries! There is always a way out with cooking.*

This is one of those fast paced recipes once you actually begin cooking.  The only tempered aspect would be how I prepare eggplant. I really like it to be completely well done, not an iota of “eggplantyness” to be found.  So I roasted my eggplant in the oven for 15 minutes first, then let it cool and chopped it up.  Make sure all your ingredients are prepared before hand, so you can cook this quick in one shot.  Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.

Heat up about 3-4 tbsp of canola oil (or any light oil with minimal flavor, NOT olive oil) on medium-high heat.  Ideally this would be cooked on a super hot wok, but I don’t have one, and I also like my veggies a little more well done versus crunchy, so I prefer the middle-ground between stir fry and saute. Anyway, add the garlic and onions, tossing periodically for 5 minutes.  Then add the green chilies, and fry for another minute.

Next add the yellow beans (I just happened to find these. You can use long green beans as well, rinsed and trimmed), and toss them in the onion mix until the have a slight golden brown duskiness all around.  Add the eggplant, and let it fry with everything else. Mine was semi-cooked, having been pre-roasted, but if you use the small Japanese eggplant, you may not need to roast first.  Fry until the eggplant also looks to have achieved the slightest of crispy edges (about 4-5 minutes) then toss in the basil.  I just shredded them coursely in my hand, let them retain some of their shape.  The aroma is nigh on maddening, just so so lovely.

Once the basil has wilted a smidge and a half (as in it has cooked down), give your prepared sauce a quick stir to liven up the settled cornstarch and generously pour in the pan. At this point you decrease the heat to a little less than medium and let the veggies cook int he sauce for 2 minutes, then reduce to super low until ready to serve with some sticky rice or noodles.

In the past few years I discovered how MUCH I love eggplant.  Just how how how much.  I personally will eat it no matter what, but this flavor palette has been one of my favorites definitely.  I hope you feel the same!

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5 thoughts on “Thai Basil Eggplant

  1. I am such a planner and uncertainty freaks me out so I can only imagine how overwhelmed you are. Best Wishes as you move forward 🙂

    • Thanks so much! BTW I’m already in love with your blog (just had a chance to glance at it). Everything looks amazing and I look forward to reading, once I have time!!

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