“awesome eggplant explosion” – recipe

“Eggplant Awesome Explosion” is the name Samir has enthusiastically given this dish and, all modesty cast aside, I can’t say the title is misplaced. After eating eggplant out at chinese and thai restaurants I wanted to recreate a similar meal at home and this is what I came up with. It’s extremely tasty and easy to make. Give it a try! I highly recommend watching episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation while cooking. There’s nothing like seeing Captain Picard get it on with Vash in a cave or start macking on Commander Daren in the astrometrics lab to add some real heat to the kitchen. Oh, Patrick Stewart, please come sit at my table and I will make you finest damned cup of earl grey you’ve ever had before bewitching you with my intellectual charm and stately beauty. And then, my husband will come home. And maybe we will have a dance party to this gem of a remix:

When our three minutes of electronic space trekking are up, there’s always this to fall back on.  MESMERIZING.

And, of course, who could resist imagining what would happen if Skrillex loved Star Trek as much as I do:

So. About that eggplant. Here’s how to make it.

what you’ll need:

  • 1 large regular purple eggplant, or 2-3 long japanese purple eggplants
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 ginger garlic cube
  • 2 tbl. grapeseed oil or coconut oil
  • ½ tsp. dhana jeera (combination of ground cumin and coriander powder. If you don’t have this, just do ¼ tsp of each cumin and coriander)
  •  ¼ tsp. – ½ tsp. of red chili powder (I do ¼ but if you really want some heat go with ½)
  • 3 tbl. soy or tamari sauce
  •   2 – 3 tbls. corn starch
  • 1 tbl. agave nectar
  • 2 tbl. ume plum vinegar
  • thai (also called cinnamon) basil – one large handful or bunch
  • filtered water

what you do:

Cut the eggplant up into odd, incongruent shapes rather than cubes. This is supposed to help the eggplant from getting stuck on one side and thus cooking unevenly. I’m not sure how much validity there is to this so I say do whatever you want! Express yourself. Put the eggplant into a wok or any pot/pan with a lid and add enough water to cover most of the eggplant. I’d say maybe an inch or two. It’s not precise because as long as you don’t chuck in a whole pint of agua the leftover will mix with the sauce and cook together.

 

Cover the eggplant and turn the heat on medium-high. You are basically steaming the eggplant. You eventually want it to turn white and become tender.

Once the water gets hot and starts to bubble a little you can turn the heat down to low. Leave the eggplant to cook while you make the sauce. It’s pretty low maintenance but you might want to stir it every so often.

Onto the sauce. In a small pan put in 2 tbl. oil. I recently used coconut oil with this recipe and will continue to do so in the future, however, if you don’t have coconut oil or don’t like the slightest hint of coconut flavor, go with grapeseed. I, and probably everyone else in America, usually use olive oil in my recipes, however, olive oil is really a horrible cooking oil. It’s not designed for high heat. Grapeseed oil and coconut oil are excellent for high heat and coconut oil in particular has many fantastic health benefits. Chop or mince the garlic cloves and at them to the oil. Add the ginger garlic cube and sautee for a minute. Then add the agave nectar, soy or tamari sauce ( I use Nama Shoyu, an unfermented soy sauce because I love the bold flavor) and the plum vinegar. I have tried other vinegars with this recipe and they just don’t recreate the same distinctive flavor. If you’re having trouble finding it, check Whole Foods.

Add in 1/4 cup of filtered water and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat to low. Keep uncovered. You want it to simmer for about 6 minutes or so, while the eggplant finishes cooking.

Your eggplant should look something like this– still solid enough to stay together but tender and white so it melts in your mouth. Can you see the left over water in the first picture? That’s fine, it will cook into the sauce.

Now you want to take the sauce and poor it into the wok with the eggplant and remaining water. Add in your spices, the red chili powder and the dhana jeera. Stir everything together. Keep the burner on a low to medium heat. Let it cook uncovered for 1-2 minutes.

 

The above photo is what it looked like when I added the garlic sauce and spices.

Now you want to thicken the sauce and make everything stick together in delicious, starchy, harmony. Add the 2 tbl. spoons of organic corn starch and stir in thoroughly. The sauce will begin to thicken. If you need to, add a little more. Just make sure you mix it in well or you might chomp down on a gooey ball of corn starch. It tends to clump on your mixing spoon, so you might want to wash that utensil before you serve the eggplant.

 

Now that the sauce is thickened add in the thai basil. The thai basil is the star of this dish so DON’T SKIMP! Don’t use the stems, but throw the whole leaves in there. I have a huge thai basil plant in my back yard but if you’re not growing it look for it at the Asian grocery or a speciality store like Whole Foods. It will be easier to find, and cheaper, at an Asian store. Fold it into the eggplant so that it has a chance to get some heat and wilt.

It’s done! Remove from heat and serve over your choice of rice. We mostly use basmati around here but any kind will be just fine. Feel free to salivate.

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