Thursday, April 8, 2010

Eggplant Red Curry

As mentioned (many times... sorry), I ate a lot of cooked vegetables in Laos as opposed to fresh. But don't you cry for me - I love cooked vegetables (when done right). And in Laos, the sheer variety of vegetable dishes and the ways in which they were prepared never left me lacking or feeling bored with my options. I especially ate a lot of eggplant. In Laos, eggplant comes in dozens of varieties - small, round and green; long thin and variegated; deep, dark and classic aubergine. My favorite take is a simple eggplant red curry, a dish so good that even my eggplant-hating, curry-despising husband will eat with gusto (who IS that man?).

I cobbled together my own semi-homemade recipe to approximate what I ate while in Laos; the ingredients can certainly be tweaked to suit your own tastes. But it's simple, it's tasty, and I can almost guarantee that if you didn't like eggplant before, this dish just might make you a convert. Worth a shot, right?

Eggplant Red Curry
  • 1 large eggplant (or several of the smaller varieties), cubed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2+ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste (more or less depending on how much heat/flavor you like - I like a lot!)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely shredded (chiffonade)
  • Kosher salt
Start by placing the cubed eggplant in a colander and salting (salting will leach out the bitterness). Let sit to drain for a minimum of 30 minutes but up to an hour. In the meantime, combine the coconut milk and red curry paste; stir to blend well.

Place the sesame oil and minced garlic in a large skillet or wok. Slowly bring up the temperature to medium/medium-high, cooking until the garlic is soft and aromatic (be careful it doesn't burn). Add the eggplant; saute for 2-3 minutes until eggplant is lightly browned on all sides. Add the coconut milk/curry mixture, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the eggplant is soft and the curry has reduced by about a quarter. Add the basil chiffonade at the very end; serve immediately. Great with sticky rice!

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