Life is strange. I went months searching and hoping and imagining getting my hands on some baby eggplants.. purple, white or green, but my deepest desire was the Thai green eggplants. I've always been on the lookout, but I've been less active in my search these days than I have been in the past.
When I least expected it.. BAM, they fell from the sky. Literally.. they are imports by air. Luckily, they landed in good hands. They came accompanied by something I'd never heard of.. pea eggplant labelled "very small eggplant." These babies are the cutest things I've ever laid my culinary eyes on. Eggplants that look like fresh green pepper? Beloved Thai green eggplants I've been dreaming of for years?
Come to mama babies!
I couldn't help but make a dish subliming the eggplant. I didn't want something where they would be lost in the middle of a crowd. I wanted the eggplant to be the main event. The strangest part of this story is that I was inspired by a recipe from a book translated into French. This never happens. My brain creates in English. I can follow recipes written in French, but they never speak to me. This one did. It opened up to the eggplant page almost naturally and it seduced me in the blink of an eye... and then I had to kidnap it and take it into my world.
Inspired by p 508 (Stir-fried quail eggs with eggplant) of Thai Food by David Thompson.
4 eggs or 10 quail eggs, steamed (or hardboiled) and shelled
4 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp palm sugar
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (nuoc nam)
approximately 450g (1lb) Thai baby eggplant, halved and soaked in salted water
handful pea eggplant
handful green peas
2 fresh Thai red chiles
juice from 1/2 lime
handful chopped basil
2 dried red chiles, soaked
2 keffir lime leaves, fresh (or soaked dried)
2 tsp chopped galangal (I left this out)
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1 tsp combava zest (I used lime zest)
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp dried shrimp or shrimp paste
1. Make the paste by crushing all the ingredients with a mortar and pestle... or blitzing it in your magic bullet. Set aside.
2. Make the golden eggs. Heat the oil in a wok, then add the turmeric. It should fizz. Then add the eggs and cook, rolling them around until they obtain a nice blistered skin and a deep golden color. Set aside and remove all but 3 Tbsp of oil.
3. Heat the oil again and add the paste. Cook until a nice aroma starts wafting, then add 1 Tbsp fish sauce and the sugar and stir.
4. Drain the baby eggplant and add to the wok. Coat well, then add the pea eggplant. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes on high, then lower the heat to a simmer, add the green peas, lime juice and the chiles and cover for another 10 minutes.
5. Taste and add more fish sauce if needed. The eggplants should be tender.
6. Before serving, add the golden eggs back in and heat through.
Serve sprinkled with fresh basil. This would be a perfect match for steamed jasmine rice!
The Thai baby eggplants are slightly sweet and hold their texture while exuding tenderness. They are adorned by the curry paste in their most intimate crevices. The pea eggplants were surprising. They are bitter when eaten alone, but in a mouthful of several times, they give a nice balancing flavor.
This was an exhilarating experience to say the least.. almost a Reminiscence..