Stir-fried eggplant? I say YASSSSS. And add some Thai basil leaves to it for the amazing aroma too --- because that's just how we roll!
This Thai-style eggplant stir-fry is a simple yet special dish. I've never seen or had any other Asian version that uses a similar combo of ingredients before. I suppose the things that make the Thai stir-fried eggplant different are salted boy beans and Thai basil leaves.
We normally use fish sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce to season our stir-fries, but here we're using none of those! Salted soy beans definitely give this dish enough saltiness. If you don't have salted soy beans but happen to have miso, you can use miso too. I've tested the recipe with it and it turned out just as well!
Salted soy beans and sugar make this eggplant stir-fried taste super yum. Lemme guess... You're thinking sugar in a stir-fry is a no no. Am I right? But trust me, as strange as it sounds, this eggplant stir-fry is ah-mazinggg. And the bird's eye chilies and Thai basil leaves just enhance the flavor even further.
**This Thai stir-fried eggplant will NOT be the same without Thai basil leaves. It just won't. So make sure you have them!
We also add water to the pan while cooking but not too much. Why water? Because the liquid in any Asian stir-fry mixed with rice is the best thing in the world. Repeat: THE BEST. The stuff absorbs the flavor of each individual ingredient and is therefore rice and intense.
THE SECRET TO KEEPING THE EGGPLANT GREEN AND FIRM
Okay, so this is what my mom does and told me to do: fry the eggplant first and set it aside. In Thailand, we like to use the green long eggplant for this dish, and the green eggplant gets quite dark when cooked. Also, if you cook it for too long, it becomes too soft. Not that it's not delicious soft, but it could get so soft that it won't stay in pieces or look appealing when you serve it. Know what I mean? So my mom taught me to cook the eggplant, set it aside, cook everything else in the pan except for the chilies and Thai basil leaves, and then add the eggplant back to the pan with the chilies and Thai basil leaves. This way, the eggplant will stay green and hold itself better.
I understand, though, that you don't get green long eggplants everywhere, so you can use the normal purple eggplant. If you're using that, you probably won't need to worry about the color, but you may still want to fry the eggplant first to keep the texture firm. 🙂
So how about eggplant stir-fry with rice for dinner tonight? What d'ya think?
Eggplant Stir-Fried with Thai Basil Leaves & Salted Soy Beans Recipe
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 medium-sized Thai green long eggplant or any kind of eggplant you can find cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 180 grams beef cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon salted soy beans
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 100 milliliters water
- 5-7 Thai bird's eye chilies sliced diagonally
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves
- Heal oil in a pan over medium heat and fry the eggplant for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. This is going to keep the texture and color of the eggplant nice, as opposed to cooking it in the pan the whole time.
- Add garlic and beef to the pan and stir until the beef is almost done.
- Add water and season with salted soy beans and sugar. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Place the eggplant back in the pan with chilies and Thai basil leaves and stir for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with rice immediately.