This week for our SlowTrav Sunday Small Bites, Eden chose Eggplant. I love eggplant!
I remember enjoying baby eggplant sliced in half, broiled, and topped with scallions & soy sauce. It was very good. I though for this weeks Small Bite challenge, I’d try something similar. But instead of an ambiguous Asian flavor, I’d try to make it as distinctly Thai as possible.
At, Global Foods, I found some nice firm striped Thai eggplant, as well as some baby Indian eggplant. I decided to try both of them to see which one worked the best. I found that the Thai eggplant had a much meatier flesh and was a better size to be a one-bite appetizer.
The ingredient list and the process kind of evolved more or less on-the-fly as I tinkered. But I did write down each step so I could remember for my blog entry. So here is what I call - THAI EGGPLANT BITES
Slice eggplants in half, being careful to leave a bit of stem on the end to serve as a handle. Don’t remove the seeds. Have a bowl of acidic water handy to toss them in as you work. I used the juice of one lime for my acid.
Take each half of the bowl of water, pat dry with a paper towel and crosshatch with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut through the skin. Arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet, drizzling olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.
While the eggplant halves are roasting, combine the following ingredients in a bowl:
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs. each - Thai style chili sauce; Thai seasoning blend; Tamari sauce; sesame seeds; dried chives; grated fresh ginger.
1 tsp each – chili pepper flakes; grated fresh ginger; fish sauce
1 cup - coconut flake
4 tbs. - sliced lemon grass (just the white part)
4 tbs. - coconut/lime liqueur. (This is from my homemade batch. To approximately replicate, use 2 tbs. coconut cream, 1 tbs., vodka, & 1 tbs. sugar)
In a coffee grinder or small food processor, roughly chop ½ cup dry roasted peanuts. I found some at Global Foods that were coated in coconut flavoring, so I used them.
Remove eggplant from oven and let cool just long enough to be able to handle without burning your fingers. Then carefully scoop out the pulp and seeds of each half with a spoon or melon baller into a separate bowl. Be careful not to cut through the tender skin because you are going to use these as cups.
Using a small food processor or a stick blender, process the pulp and seeds until smooth. Transfer to bowl with other ingredients and mix.
Fill the eggplant cups with the mixture and sprinkle the top with the chopped peanuts. Put back in oven, under a broiler for just a few minutes until peanuts begin to darken. Be careful. This takes ONLY a few minutes.
Garnish the top of each bite with a sprig of cilantro and serve warm as a pass-around finger food. Eat by holding stem and putting entire cup in mouth to bite off. Here's what's left over.
I had a good 3/4 cup of the mixture left over after filling my eggplant cups. So I froze it, thinking it would make a really good spread for flat bread. When I'm ready to use it, I'll mix in some freshly chopped peanuts.
Caution: This is a fiery hot appetizer, but the authentic Thai flavors are fabulous!