I’ve only recently discovered this dish, and absolutely love it. It has great depth of flavor. If you have already made the Nam Phrik Phao, then most of the work is in pan frying (or oven roasting) the eggplant. We love everything with eggplant and although this should preferably be made with Thai eggplant, it also works well with regular eggplant. The Thai basil adds an important fresh accent to make the flavor profile complete (and can’t be substituted with regular basil, unfortunately). The recipe is from Hot Thai Kitchen. But instead of pan frying the eggplant, I prefer to roast it in the oven. It is easier to cook the eggplant evenly without burning, and less oil is needed. This is a delicious dish and will be made again and again. The only drawback is that I have to drive half an hour to buy the Thai basil.
For 2 servings
500 grams (1.1 lbs) eggplant, preferably Thai eggplant
250 grams (.55 lb) ground chicken thighs
plenty of fresh Thai basil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 or 3 Thai red chillies, finely minced (with or without seeds)
For the sauce
2 Tbsp nam prik pao
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp water
Remove the bottom and top off the eggplants and slice into .5 cm (1/4 inch) slices. If the eggplant is large, cut the slices in halves or quarters. Cook them in a frying pan over high heat in a single layer…
…until golden brown on both sides. This can be a bit tedious, because you have to keep turning the eggplant slices to see if they are brown yet. They can go from undercooked to overcooked pretty quickly. As you can see in the upper left corner of the photo, the eggplant won’t all fit in a single frying pan at once.
The eggplant doesn’t need to be completely cooked, as it will be cooked some more in the next step.
My preferred method, probably not a very Thai thing to do, is to preheat the oven to 225C/440F, to arrange the eggplant slices on a baking sheet lined with oven paper, and to brush them lightly with oil.
Roast the eggplant for 15 minutes at 225C/440F, then turn the slices…
…and roast for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
I kept the slices whole for easier brushing and turning, and only cut them into quarters after roasting them.
Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl, and stir until the nam prik pao has dissolved.
Heat up a wok and add a tablespoon of oil. Then add the minced chillies and stir for a minute.
Add the minced garlic and stir briefly, but do not let the garlic turn brown.
Add the ground chicken.
Stir fry until the raw pink color has disappeared. (Add a few drops of water if needed.)
Now add the eggplant and sauce.
Stir fry until everything is well mixed and the eggplant is cooked. Then turn off the heat.
Add the basil.
Toss briefly until the basil has wilted.
Serve with Jasmin rice.
It does not come as a surprise that this works well with a dry Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige in Italy.