Thai Basil Eggplant over Rice

Somehow, I didn’t discover eggplant until about high school. Ever since then, I have tried eggplant in just about way imaginable. This recipe is part of my efforts to explore more Asian food, and it features the uniquely striking flavors of Thai basil.

There are tons of variations possible with this, and I have some listed at the bottom.  There’s even a low fat version (which has a slightly different, lighter and more mellow flavor.)

You can use regular eggplant, but to get the full effect, look for the long and skinny eggplants sold in the Asian market. They have a subtlely different flavor which I’m sure you’ll love!

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While you’re at the Asian market, be sure to pick up some chili bean paste (also called hot bean sauce) and avocado oil. If you’re going to cook with oil, avocado oil is one of the healthier choices, boasting of an incredibly high smoke point as well as being high in oleic acid (omega-9 fats, instead of omega-6 fats).

What You Need

Note: If you’re unsure where to buy some of these things, check out our post on where to buy Asian ingredients

Group 1

  • 3-4 TBS avocado oil (You could also use another neutral cooking oil if you don’t have this)
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 7 c eggplant wedges (cut in half and then into ~1″ pieces)
  • 6 small (2″) whole dried chili peppers (optional)

Group 2

  • water to cover
  • 2-4 TBS gluten-free soy sauce (Depends how strong you want this to be)
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (other sugar would work, too)
  • 1 TBS chili bean paste
  • 1 TBS cooking wine

Group 3

  • 1 TBS rice flour + few TBS water, mixed together
  • 1/4 c fresh Thai basil leaves (or ~1.5 TBS dried basil)
  • 1/4 c chopped green onions

What You Do

  • In a wok over high heat, pan fry the garlic in the avocado oil for no more than 1 minute.
  • Add in the eggplant and stir briefly.  Continue cooking until the eggplant starts to darken.
  • Pour the group 2 ingredients (water, soy sauce, sugar, bean paste) over the eggplant, stir briefly to mix everything together, and cover.  Use just enough water to cover the top of the eggplant.
  • Continue to cook over high heat until eggplant chunks are soft; stir occasionally.  Either use a drop lid or be prepared to add more water as the cooking process goes on.  The eggplant is done cooking when a chunk of it (cooled off!) nearly falls apart in your mouth.
  • Remove from heat
  • Add group 3 ingredients (rice flour with water, basil, green onions).  Stir to incorporate.

The end result will be very soft chunks of eggplant which fall apart easily.  Because this dish has a very strong flavor, be sure to to serve this with some rice, noodles, or naan bread–whichever you prefer!

Other optional mods include:

Miso.  I like making this with less oil and soy sauce and adding 1 TBS light miso.  Gives it a lighter, more refreshing flavor.

Ginger.  Try adding 1 TBS minced ginger at the same time as the garlic for a bit of a different flavor.

Green bell pepper.  Stir-fry a chopped up green pepper in a separate pan & add to the finished dish.  Pairs very well!

What’s your favorite way to eat this dish?

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