I had these beautiful fairy tale eggplants and wanted to showcase them in a fabulous meal. I decided to go in a Thai direction since we’ve been eating a lot of Italian food lately. I love Italian food, but variety is the spice of life, as they say. I will go into the recipe, but first a little on the emotional roller coaster that was this meal.
The meal consisted of steamed green beans from the farmers market, cubed tofu in a coconut red curry sauce, basmati rice (I know jasmine would have been more authentic, but I use what I have), and fairy tale eggplant sauteed with red onions. Most of the ingredients were organic.
It was an impromptu meal without any specific plans other than taking it in a Thai direction. I got the eggplant sauteing with the red onion and wanted to taste for doneness. I cut a little piece and it was so incredibly bitter, I spit it into the compost. I was so disappointed, the whole dish almost went into the compost.
Then I decided to pull some Thai red curry paste out of the cupboard to pair with coconut milk for the tofu dish. I tasted the teeniest bit of the curry paste for flavor and it was so hot, I couldnâ€™t taste anything for about twenty minutes. I used about a half tablespoon of the paste with a can of coconut milk, and two pounds of tofu, and (since I couldn’t taste anything but HOT) had to appoint my mother in law as taster to see if it was palatable. Then, as everything was nearly finished, I tasted a green bean for doneness and it was very fibrous, not tender.
So, I decided the meal was a disaster and hoped everyone could choke it down. We all put it on our plates without our, now customary, photo shoot. Turns out, the rest of the eggplants were fine, no bitterness. The rest of the green beans were tender and perfectly steamed. The tofu had a great consistency, the coconut milk was creamy and fragrant, and the red curry paste was tasty, well spiced, and not too hot.
So, those were the ups and downs, that ended with a delicious meal, and a good photo that my husband scrambled to assemble for me, before it was all gone.
“Recipe” serves 4 people.
1 lb. or so of fairy tale eggplant cut in half (or cubed eggplant of other varieties).
1 med. red onion diced (great color with the eggplant, but you could use any onion you have on hand).
1 limeâ€™s worth of juice
1 or so tsp. sugar/honey/agave syrup (it’s really to your taste)
1 or so Tbs. soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s aminos
1-2 Tbs. chopped cilantro for garnish, or use a few Thai basil leaves in the sauce instead
About 1 Tbs. diced ginger
1 small jalapeno or serrano chili diced
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
1-1 & ½ lbs. green beans trimmed and snapped to bite size.
2 lbs. firm tofu cubed
1 can of coconut milk (don’t use light, the taste isn’t as good and it’s a waste of money since it’s just coconut milk diluted with some water and fillers)
½ Tbs. of Thai red curry paste
1 ½ cups basmati or jasmine fragrant rice
About 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups water for rice
Several Tbs. coconut oil for both tofu and eggplant.
Rinse the rice and put it in the pot with the water, bring to boil, cover, turn heat to very low and cook 15-20 minutes, checking after 15 to see if water is fully absorbed.
While the rice is cooking start searing the cubed tofu in some of the coconut oil on med. and let it sit in the heat of the pan, only moving them around the pan occasionally. It will develop a browned meatier texture if it gets a chance to sear on a couple sides.
In another pan saute the onions, and when they become translucent, add eggplant. Depending on the size of your eggplant, it will take approx. 10-15 minutes to cook them. About half way through, add the sweetening, lime and soy sauce and the diced ginger and chili, so the flavors have time to combine, but you don’t burn the ginger and chili.
In a cup or bowl, mix the red curry paste with the coconut milk and when the tofu looks nice and browned on a few sides, pour in the coconut milk, curry paste sauce. Let that cook about 5-10 minutes to reduce the coconut milk a little and blend the flavors. Season with soy sauce to your taste depending on the saltiness of the curry paste.
When everything is close to being done, steam the green beans 4-6 minutes depending on their size and tenderness. When everything is cooked to perfection, garnish the eggplant with Thai basil or cilantro, and sesame seeds and serve.