All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014
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OK – this dish is easy & really delicious but virtually impossible to make look pretty in a photo. My Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant (seen below) is also delicious but I am starting to get bummed out about how much sugar goes into these various (though insanely yummy) Asian dishes I have been posting. This one has none – so it is just that much healthier for you.
To be honest – I used 1/4 cup of this amazing fish sauce in the version I prepared & it adds a lovely level of flavor but it most definitely is not necessary.
Also – I used these very sad looking Japanese eggplants that have been in my fridge until far past their prime – as you can see. But I loathe wasting food (and I always think of The Diary of Anne Frank & what they survived on) & these guys – despite looking pathetic were still very firm & the insides were still creamy white & perfectly fine.
I used sweet mini peppers because I had them & because they add a nice variety of color. I also happened to have Thai chilies but any hot peppers will work. I used the combo you see above – Thai chilies and both red & green jalapenos. Serranos would be fine, too.
Vegan Spicy Thai Basil & Mint Eggplant
5 Japanese eggplant – cut into cubes or any way you like
1 onion – diced
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS sesame oil
4 garlic cloves – chopped
2 jalapenos (red and/or green) – seeded & diced (use more or less to suit your taste)
1 red bell pepper or 8 mini sweet peppers – cut into strips
4+ Thai peppers – split lengthwise – tops on (or additional jalapeno or serrano peppers)
1/4 soy sauce (or more to taste)
1/4 fish sauce (omit if you are vegan)
1/4 cup water
1 packed cup fresh mint – chopped
1 packed cup Thai (or other) basil – chopped
Cook up some rice.
Heat the sesame & olive oil in a wok or large saute pan over med-high heat. Saute the onion, hot peppers, bell or mini peppers until they soften. Add the garlic & saute one minute.
Add the eggplant & the soy sauce, fish sauce (if using) and the water. Saute until the eggplant softens. Cover the pan to hasten this process.
When the vegetables are as tender as you want them – stir in the mint & basil. Season with more soy sauce or maybe salt – though I did not.
Serve this up with some rice & some limes wedges (maybe extra basil or mint as garnish) & enjoy!!! Oh – and if you used Thai peppers you might want to remove them. I wouldn’t suggest eating them unless you are a heat freak.