Spicy Yellow & Green Thai Eggplants with Vietnamese Coriander
Thai eggplant... Vietnamese coriander? What craziness is this?!? Oh, just the usual mealtime madness! I bought the lovely little yellow eggplants as I was so taken by their vibrant color... don't laugh- but I had never seen them in yellow before! So of course I picked up a bag- and wouldn't you know it, right behind them were these incredibly cute, purple cousins of theirs- and of course the little green and white ones too! So how could I have resisted? And more to the point... why should I have? ;-)
I picked up a few other things including some lovely, locally grown fresh herbs- and then Mrs Wong asked me if I knew what the lovely little leaves you can see in my photos was. Of course I didn't know and of course she encouraged me to pluck a leaf and taste it... and so I did... and wow! Such a wonderful flavor- so rich and intense... I loved it. And this of course was the Vietnamese coriander- much richer and more robust than our light, feathery cilantro. She was so kind as to pop me a couple of leaves into my bag as she had only just started growing it and the plant needed to get better established. I am just glad that she did have it and totally happy to have something new to try! So- thank you Mrs Wong!
Thai eggplants are much firmer and almost crunch in texture compared to their big brothers- they are full of seeds and have a slightly bitter and peppery undertone to their flavor- but taste wonderfully rich and intense. And I had these lovely yellow and green examples to use for supper! I wanted to save the purple ones for another night- they can be turned into something Italian... tonight I was in the mood for Asian!
I cut the little eggplants into quarters and popped them straight into a steamer with just a little pinch of salt, for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I sliced a Spring onion finely on the diagonal and a mini bell pepper also into fine strips. I also cut of about 1" of fresh ginger and finely chopped that too. I wanted to have the other ingredients cook quickly later when I fried them with the eggplant, being as it would already be relatively tender after steaming.
The eggplant still had bite to it, the peppers and peas were crunchy and sweet as a contrast to the slightly bitter and tangy eggplant and the ginger and spice made it lovely and spicy... it was pretty delicious! I added a splash of fish sauce, a light drizzle of hoisin and little squeeze of sriracha sauce to make it really come together. Tabasco would also have worked well- but I decided to stay with the Asian flavors- none of that Irish stuff this evening!
I served up the eggplants on some plain white rice and gave them a tiny drizzle of sesame oil for a little added richness... and last but not least, a nice scattering of the deliciously aromatic Vietnamese coriander leaves- perfect! Whoever claims that vegetarian meals are boring or missing something... well they are probably boring or missing something themselves! Because as much as I enjoy meat, chicken, seafood or fish... this was pretty darned good without any of those things!
Try it and you'll see!