All about the eggplants! I had a craving for a really tasty Thai eggplant dish and didn't think I could pull it off at home. I decided to give it a go and purchased ingredients. Unless you shop at an Asian grocery store, finding Thai eggplants can be a challenge, but I have been lucky to find the elongated Chinese eggplants and small round Thai eggplants at Whole Foods. I've also used Italian eggplants when there were no other options. I definitely prefer smaller eggplants and recommend the Chinese and Thai for flavor. If both are available, I like to mix the two variations. Also difficult to find is Thai basil, so regular basil will suffice, but the more aromatic the basil flavor, the better the overall essence of the dish. I always hear in Thai restaurants, fish sauce is the key to most Thai dishes. Since I substitute soy sauce for fish sauce, I can not affirm this statement, but am confident my substitution does not hinder the the dish! If you can eat fish sauce, go for it! Once all the ingredients are gathered, the process is quick and easy. Also note, this dish can be made with or without chicken. If you choose the vegetarian route, add more eggplant and 1 more red pepper. I insist on adding Thai peppers for an additional kick to the sauce, but beware of their intense fervor. The day I challenged myself to make a Thai dish was my best realization. I succeeded in creating an authentic dish that satisfied my tastebuds and now I make this burst of flavor several times a month! I urge you to give it a try!
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 pound chicken breast, finely sliced 2-inch pieces
1½ pounds Japanese eggplants (3-4), cut into 1-inch bite sized pieces
1 large red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise in thin strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
4 whole Thai peppers
3 tablespoons green or red thai curry paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, additional is optional
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup thai basil leaves, or regular basil leaves
sea salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large deep pan over medium high heat. Add the eggplants and bell pepper and sauté until the eggplant has begun to soften all around, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry paste and cook until aromatic, another 1 minute.
2. Pour in the coconut milk, mix well, and bring liquid to a simmer. Add thai peppers. Stir in the soy sauce and honey. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the Thai basil leaves. Season with salt. Transfer to a deep serving dish. Serve with rice or pad thai noodles.