Sushil’s Thai Eggplant Basil

On our fourth date, I took Indu to a small, casual Thai restaurant in Brookline, MA named Rod Dee. I've been frequenting this place for almost 20 years, making it as acceptable for take-out after work as it is for a date, right?? The key to this dish is, quite simply, heat -- and not necessarily spice levels (although they count too) -- but rather the temperature at which you cook the tofu, eggplant and aromatics.  We use a cast iron wok that retains temperature and distributes high heat evenly, making the cooking process easier to control. We were lucky today to find these Thai Spice garlic heads at the Needham farmer's market, and we're pretty proud of our own home-grown thai basil and asian eggplants -- it's harvest time, after all.

 generous splash of avocado oil for frying
 16 oz block of tofu (we like the sprouted kind), cubed
 46 asian slender eggplants
 23 sweet or bell peppers
 7 cloves of garlic
 1 medium shallot
 12 handfuls of thai basil
 1 tbsp nam prik pao paste
 chili paste
 ½ tsp palm sugar
 1 tbsp water
 2 tbsp fish sauce
 1 tbsp soy sauce

1

Begin by heating avocado oil in a very hot wok. The oil will get to a high temperature without smoking, so be sure to watch closely.

2

Dice the tofu into 3/4 inch cubes and drain excess water.

3

Add the tofu to the wok all at once, stirring only once to make sure that all cubes are in contact with the wok. Minimize stirring of the cubes to ensure that they turn golden brown on the bottom; stir after this has occurred to brown the remaining surfaces of the tofu.

4

When the tofu is prepared, remove it from the heat and place on a paper towel to drain. Wipe the wok clear of any remaining tofu bits.

5

Reduce heat to medium/low and add another generous splash of oil, this time for the garlic and shallots.

6

Create the sauce base for the dish: in a small bowl, combine fish sauce, soy, palm sugar, nam prik pao paste, chili sauce, and water. Stir well to blend ingredients, consistency should be of a liquid paste without chunks.

7

Add garlic and shallots to the wok, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

8

Add sauce base and increase heat to medium/high; the mixture will start to steam/boil.

9

Add diced eggplant (chunks should be made into odd shaped pieces to avoid sticking) and stir; at this point the wok can be covered.

10

After eggplant starts to turn color, add diced bell pepper.

11

Before bell pepper is cooked, add cooked tofu to the wok and stir.

12

Add fresh thai basil leaves just before serving and stir.

13

An optional finishing sauce consisting of diced fresh thai chilis, fish sauce, shallots and lime juice can be added on the side for those who prefer some extra kick.

Ingredients

 generous splash of avocado oil for frying
 16 oz block of tofu (we like the sprouted kind), cubed
 46 asian slender eggplants
 23 sweet or bell peppers
 7 cloves of garlic
 1 medium shallot
 12 handfuls of thai basil
 1 tbsp nam prik pao paste
 chili paste
 ½ tsp palm sugar
 1 tbsp water
 2 tbsp fish sauce
 1 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

1

Begin by heating avocado oil in a very hot wok. The oil will get to a high temperature without smoking, so be sure to watch closely.

2

Dice the tofu into 3/4 inch cubes and drain excess water.

3

Add the tofu to the wok all at once, stirring only once to make sure that all cubes are in contact with the wok. Minimize stirring of the cubes to ensure that they turn golden brown on the bottom; stir after this has occurred to brown the remaining surfaces of the tofu.

4

When the tofu is prepared, remove it from the heat and place on a paper towel to drain. Wipe the wok clear of any remaining tofu bits.

5

Reduce heat to medium/low and add another generous splash of oil, this time for the garlic and shallots.

6

Create the sauce base for the dish: in a small bowl, combine fish sauce, soy, palm sugar, nam prik pao paste, chili sauce, and water. Stir well to blend ingredients, consistency should be of a liquid paste without chunks.

7

Add garlic and shallots to the wok, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

8

Add sauce base and increase heat to medium/high; the mixture will start to steam/boil.

9

Add diced eggplant (chunks should be made into odd shaped pieces to avoid sticking) and stir; at this point the wok can be covered.

10

After eggplant starts to turn color, add diced bell pepper.

11

Before bell pepper is cooked, add cooked tofu to the wok and stir.

12

Add fresh thai basil leaves just before serving and stir.

13

An optional finishing sauce consisting of diced fresh thai chilis, fish sauce, shallots and lime juice can be added on the side for those who prefer some extra kick.

Sushil’s Thai Eggplant Basil

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