Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eggplant with Thai Basil

If you have experienced Thai Basil, you already know how unique the flavour is. If you haven't- you need to search it out! The licorice-flavoured, purple-stemmed leaves add a complexity to even the most simple dishes.

After trying vegetarian eggplant with thai basil several times at our local Thai restaurant (and I use that term loosely, since the owners are Chinese and the music seemed to be Japanese-instrumental last time), I was convinced that I had to start growing it in my herb garden.

And so I began experimenting and came up with this easy recipe. It is so comforting and delicious served atop a bowl of warm brown rice. Next time I might try to add some tofu or some other veg to the mix, but for now this simple little recipe rocks my world.

This may not be what you would be served at a Thai restaurant (or a Chinese/Japanese, Thai-inspired, restaurant), but it is an easy shortcut to achieve similar flavours at home.

Eggplant with Thai Basil
Asian dishes usually rely on Japanese, or long slender, eggplants. I happened to have some local hothouse eggplants that are mini globes- they are more bulbous in shape and they managed to fit the bill this time.

2-3 tbsp neutral cooking oil (sunflower, grapeseed, etc.)
2 small- medium sized eggplants, diced into 1" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated or finely minced ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup packed thai basil leaves

1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant pieces until lightly browned and softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add more oil if desired.
2. Add garlic and ginger and saute for about 1 minute. Do not let burn.
3. Combine soy sauce, water, honey and cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Pour into pan and cook until heated through and glossy in appearance, about another minute or two. Add thai basil and cook for another minute. Serve immediately.