Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tongue-Thaid: Thai Eggplant

So, if you are vegetarian, chances are Thai eggplant or some permutation of tofu and vegetable stir fry is your usual meal of choice when going out for Thai. Surprisingly enough, Thai eggplant is a dish of relatively minimal effort to make at home, yet it is so thoroughly impressive that it is sure to leave your guests tongue-thaid as they marvel at your culinary prowess [my puns get better, I promise].
As you set out on the seemingly very daunting task of making Thai food at home, you are probably imagining it will be something very akin to this experience and, even worse, *gasp* require a trip to that mythical yet thoroughly dreaded place known as the suburbs to procure exotic ingredients you will only use once. Fret not--I would be far too remiss in my role as "pragmatic food blogger" if I recommended you purchase anything that cannot be used in a variety of dishes. For example, did you know that you could use fish sauce essentially as salt in mac and cheese? No, seriously. The cool part about any Asian cooking, especially Indian or Thai, is that there is a roster of staple spices/flavorings that will show up in some combination in most dishes. So any time you purchase ingredients, you can reuse them and, hopefully, that will encourage you to keep trying different things beyond that one time when you were trying to impress that one girl but stumbled 'cause your idea of cooking Indian was sprinkling curry powder on everything. The other part about making that "dreaded trip to the burbs" is that you are not just going to a store to buy "weird stuff." You are getting an edumacation. Sure, you could get Japanese eggplants in Giant or Whole Bucks, but how predictable and DC centric is that!? Why not check out an H Mart, where you can at the very least procure things you had no idea could be shrimp-flavored!
OK, on to the recipe. As any self-respecting foodie, I first try to consult some venerated source of cooking lore, examine their recipe, and then completely ignore it [whatever, Martha!]. No...more like I look at the general technique and then adapt it/overhaul it/pragmatize it/what have you. So, for this one, I consulted Simply Thai Cooking. While their recipe appeared "legit," it required a whooping cup of vegetable oil and deep-frying the eggplants. I don't know about you, but my stomach would murder me if I tried to pull that stunt on it. BYT readers don't stay in yoga shape by guzzling oil, thank you.