Eggplants come in all shapes and sizes, colours, tastes and textures. Sadly, we only get to cook with a few varieties through our Green Grocer and 1 or 2 more through our Asian Grocers. Thai Eggplants are a particular favourite, a little crunchier in texture than the European variety, and a real affinity with Asian flavours such as toasted sesame and soy.
This is incredibly delicious. Even if you are not a tofu eater, this dish will convert you. Who could not love deep fried tofu with peanuts? The sauce is divine.
We have been making this since around 2002, so quite a while. It is a Thai style dish, simple in its construction and flavours, but that very simplicity gives it a punchy flavour. It is a perfect light lunch with a salad, or a mid afternoon snack when dinner is still a long way off.
The act of deep frying the tofu changes the nature of it, from something bland and lacking much texture, to a beautiful textural addition to other dishes or on it own.
You might also like our Tofu recipes here and here. Our Deep Fried Tofu recipes are here. Or you might like to browse SE Asian recipes here and here. Check out our easy Spring recipes here and here. Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series – beautiful vegetarian recipes from our first blog 1995 – 2005.
A light Thai dish for summer nights.
This is a a raw, Thai inspired lettuce wrapped dish, which is amazingly delicious, easy to make, and just as good as leftovers. The filling, made mainly of walnuts and mushrooms, is rather brown. Don’t let this put you off. It is wonderfully tasty.
These Thai Wraps are so simple to make, and well worth experimenting with. We love the balance of flavours, adding lime juice as we ate.
Have a look at other Thai recipes. You might like to try Thai Steamed Eggplant with Sesame and Soy Dressing or Thai Betel Leaf Salad. Or be inspired by our Summer dishes here and here.
A Chilli Jam with extraordinary depth of flavours.
This Chilli Jam is more complex and refined that many others. Slow, slow cooking gives it an enduring and lingering natural sweetness which is enhanced with the addition of jaggery.
Although it is called a jam, it is not a spread. It is closer to a Chilli Paste. It is as hot as you can imagine chillies to be, and spread it on your toast at your peril.
Who does not know the delights of pickled ginger these days? Ubiquitous with sushi, it is as common today as pickled beetroot. Come to think of it, much more common. In 1999, when I first made this, it was a different matter, and if you wanted pink pickled ginger, you made your own. Enjoy!
Coriander (Cilantro) paste is useful in so many cuisines – Greek, other Mediterranean, Indian, Vietnamese, Malaysian and other SE Asian dishes, to name a few. Sadly, it is difficult to keep fresh coriander in the kitchen for very long. One way to have that delicious flavour on hand at all times is to make coriander paste. For other ways, check out how to preserve fresh herbs. I recommend tall, tightly sealed, plastic containers – I have found this the best way.
This is a great paste for stirring into soups and broths, adding to Indian and S. E. Asian dishes – add a generous spoonful when frying off other ingredients – or adding to sauces.
Are you looking for other coriander recipes? Similar recipes include Zhoug, the Middle Eastern Coriander Paste and Dip, Coriander Pesto, and Coriander and Coconut Chutney. Also similar is an Apricot Chutney that can be made with dried apricots.
Or try these: Carrots and Green Peas with Green Coriander, Coriander and Lemongrass Vichyssoise, Pudla with Green Coriander, or Urad Dal with Tomato, Coconut and Green Coriander. Coriander Fritters are pretty good too.
You might also like other Coriander dishes and other Coriander Pastes. Middle Eastern dishes are here and here. Perhaps also browse all of our Pastes – we have some good Chilli pastes indeed. Or simply take some time to browse our Mid Summer recipes.
A Japanese Style luxurious aubergine dish – salad, side dish, main course or condiment.
Ottolenghi has a great steamed eggplant recipe in Plenty More, rather like the Thai one that I posted here but just different enough to try it out.
Don’t you just love the silky texture of steamed eggplant – so different to its grilled counterpart?
Steaming maintains some of the aubergine flesh’s texture, which doesn’t happen if you cook it in any other way. It gives this dish a particular substantial quality, making it suitable to serve with just plain rice or fried tofu. It can also be used as a condiment or side dish.
Are you looking for Spring Onion dishes? Try South Indian Spring Onion Soup.
You might also like to try some Eggplant Dishes. Try Steamed Thai Eggplants with Sesame Soy Garlic Dressing, and Steamed Thai Eggplants and Zucchini with Chilli and Lime.
I love this!
My friend Kate recently told me how good steamed Thai eggplants are with a chilli paste. In need of a quick snack while prep’ing for the large dinner on Xmas Day, I threw some in the steamer with left over zucchini, grabbed some chilli paste from the fridge and chopped up some cumquats. I love this!
I can imagine these eggplants served in a row on a narrow white plate, each one on a salad green leaf, ready for eating picking up and putting straight into the mouth. Also in this pic are some steamed betel leaves, and a pea shoots and chopped cumquats salad.
A wicked, wicked salad.
I remember my first trip to India, travelling the back-roads of Goa with a gorgeous Indian tourist guide for the day. He pointed out some betel nuts drying on the sides of the roads. In all of my naivety, I said to him “Don’t betel nuts make you go funny?” With a sage wiggle of his head, he replied “My dear, there are many things in India that make you go funny.”
How right he is, and not all of them in the hallucinogenic way.
Actually, betel leaves have many uses in India and beyond. Some of them spiritual, some of them artistic, some of them culinary. Today’s use is in a salad, and it is not Indian, but Thai, with the telltale flavours of sour, sweet and hot melded perfectly together.
I have heard that Betel Leaves are not from the same plant as Betel Nuts, but rather a plant closely related to pepper. They can be eaten raw, and are often used as a wrapping for food in India and Thailand.
You might also want to try Steamed Thai Eggplant and Zucchini, Steamed Eggplant with Sesame and Soy, and Ottoleghi’s Steamed Eggplant and Soy Dish. Our Thai dishes are here and here, and our Salads here and here. Be inspired by our Summer dishes here and here.
And Nigel Slater said eggplants can’t be steamed!
A very simple and easy recipe for a lovely snack on its own, with rice or part of a larger Thai meal. Ottolenghi has published a Japanese recipe that is nearly identical (see Ottolenhi’s version) some years after this one post appeared. It shows how wide spread dishes can be over Asia, retaining similar characteristics with regional variations.
You might also like to cook Kerala Eggplant in Coconut, Saffron and Rosewater Scented Eggplant, Eggplants, Sultanas and Pinenuts, or Steamed Thai Eggplants and Zucchini. Browse all of our Eggplant Recipes here and here, and all of our Asian recipes here and here.