This eggplant stir-fry is a very popular dish found in Thai restaurants across the US, but I don't remember mom ever making it at home. I'll have to ask her why that is because it turns out to be quite easy to throw together and packs a flavorful punch. And my version is far less oily than what's found in most restaurants.
The key to this dish is the Thai black soy sauce. And just to confuse you, it may also be called "dark soy sauce" or "dark thick soy sauce" or "dark sweet soy sauce". This "dark sweet soy sauce" should not be confused with the "real" sweet soy sauce, which is also dark. LOL
Anyhow, there are two popular brands, Healthy Boy or Dragonfly. I like the Healthy Boy brand. I was only familiar with their mushroom soy sauce, but I've recently discovered they have a whole line of soy sauces available and the ones I've tried are all good. Mom uses the Dragonfly brand. To me it tastes a little too strongly of molasses.
Note: In Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking (see right sidebar), he explains that the best way to prepare Chinese eggplant is to first oil blanch it, which results in an intense and concentrated eggplant flavor. This is a very common practice in Asian restaurants (and is often used with green beans), but I can’t be bothered to do it at home. I find briefly steaming the vegetable to be a little more manageable. Steaming will soften the vegetable a little and cuts back on the stir-frying time. You can decide which you prefer.
Thai Eggplant Stir-fry with Chicken
- 2 long Chinese eggplants, cut lengthwise into quarters and then into 2 to 3 inch segments
- 3 chicken thighs, roughly hand minced
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ bunch Thai sweet basil, leaves only
- chillies to taste, cut in half lengthwise (optional)
- 1 ½ tbs Thai black soy sauce
- 2 tbs thin soy sauce (or 1 tbs regular soy sauce, such as Kikkoman)
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp fish sauce + more to adjust flavor to taste
Alternatively, the eggplant can be oil blanched. Heat enough oil to deep fry the eggplant. The oil should be hot enough for deep frying, about 350º. Make sure the eggplant is completely dry before introducing them to the oil and do not crowd them. Fry until they get a bit soft (not mushy!), about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Drain them well.
Mix the minced garlic and minced chicken in a small bowl and set aside. Make the sauce by combining the black soy sauce, thin soy sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve.
Heat a wok over high heat. When it’s hot, add about 2 tbs oil (peanut, grapeseed, or vegetable). When the oil begins to smoke, add the chicken and chillies, if using, and stir-fry until almost done, about 2 minutes. Do not over stir the meat; give it about 20 to 30 seconds between each stir to get a proper sear. Add the eggplant and basil. Again, don’t over stir. Let the eggplant sear a little as well. Add the sauce mix and stir to coat the meat and vegetables. When it’s all heated through, it’s done. Transfer immediately to a serving bowl or plate and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
This is my submission for this month's Weekend Wokking hosted by Palachinka. If you're interested in hosting or want to see who's hosting in the future, check out this page.