Eggplant and I have an uneasy relationship. When I was a kid, I hated the vegetable with a fiery passion. And that opinion stayed with me into my teen years. But my mind started to change when I was served an order of Thai green curry with eggplant. I began to see eggplant for what it truly is. A flavor sponge that when cooked to perfection takes on a silky almost buttery consistency. And so my mind started to change. True, I still can’t say I’m in complete and total love with the vegetable, but I’m well beyond tolerance. I actually kind of like it now. And if I can say that, there is hope for eggplant haters everywhere. I’m sure it’s fairly obvious, but today’s Green Curry Braised Eggplant is a homage to that gateway bowl of green curry that started my journey toward eggplant acceptance.
This dish is dead simple to make. Honestly, this had “weeknight meal” written all over it. Start by halving and scoring a couple of Chinese or Japanese Eggplants and yes, they are not the same vegetable. There are subtle differences between them. But for our purposes today, both will work. Once the eggplants are scored, salt them. Now, this is a classic culinary technique that was used to draw bitterness out of the eggplant prior to cooking. Today, eggplants are not nearly as bitter as they were in yesteryears, so the practice is not as vital. But I still like to salt them to draw out the moisture, season the eggplants throughout, and concentrate their flavor. If you simply don’t have the time, feel free to skip this step. Leave your salted eggplant to hang out while you prep the rest of the veg.
Now, if you’re someone who hates chopping, take heart because this recipe requires very little. Start by chopping a few shallots. Cut one into rings and halve and thinly slice the others. Next, mince a couple of cloves of garlic, and a knob of ginger. And I swear to you, that is it for chopping. But you do have one last piece of prep to do, and that’s smashing the ever-loving snot out of a lemongrass stalk. We’re going to simmer the eggplant alongside this aromatic and this is the best way to express its flavor.
Okay, let’s tackle the crispy shallots. This is a dead simple process but it does take some careful attention to pull off. And it all starts with a skillet and half a cup of oil. I know what you’re thinking – that’s a lot of oil. But you are effectively deep frying the shallot you cut into rings. And don’t worry, you can drain the oil and use it as you would regular cooking oil. In fact, we’re going to use a little of it to sear our eggplants in a bit. The oil will have a light shallot flavor to it, so it would also be great in salad dressing or as a finishing accent for a soup.
Once the shallots are in the oil, keep your eye on them. You want to fish them out the moment they brown. They will very quickly cross the threshold between toasty and delicious to black and burnt if you move too slowly. So don’t wander off. Transfer the shallots to a plate lined with a paper towel and set them aside to drain. Strain the oil into a heat-proof jar and set it aside to cool as well.
Now, let’s get to the eggplant. Heat a little of that shallot oil in the same skillet. Place the eggplant in the pan cut side down and cook until golden. It’s okay if it gets a little dark in places, the burnt bits are pretty delicious. Set the eggplant aside and add your shallots. Sauté them over low heat until translucent. Then stir in the garlic and ginger and sauté for about a minute more. Stir in the curry paste and sauté until the oil begins to separate from the paste. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.
Once you’ve got a great flavor base going, stir in the coconut milk, demerara sugar, and fish sauce. Add the eggplant and the lemongrass and bring everything up to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, flipping the eggplant once halfway through. From here it’s as simple as serving the eggplant over steamed jasmine rice and topping it with crispy shallots, some scallions, and pomegranate arils. They are my favorite wintertime garnish.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Green Curry Braised Eggplant with Crispy Shallots. This is such a satisfying meal and it comes together in less than an hour. How can you say no?
Green Curry Braised Eggplant
- 1 Large skillet
- 2 Japanese eggplants ** halved and scored
- salt for sprinkling
- 3 shallots divided
- ½ cup canola oil ***
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 tbsp green curry paste **** heaping
- 1 (400ml, 13.5fl oz) can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- 1 stalk lemongrass smashed
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
- 1 scallion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils for sprinkling
- Sprinkle the eggplant halves with salt and set them aside.2 Japanese eggplants **, salt
- Slice one of the shallots into rings and slice the other two into half moons. Set both aside.3 shallots
- Pour the oil into a large skillet and add the shallot rings. Place the skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the shallots until golden. Fish them out of the oil quickly so they don’t burn. Transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set them aside to drain.½ cup canola oil ***
- Strain the oil into a heat-proof jar and set it aside to cool.
- Pour roughly 2 tablespoons of the shallot oil into the skillet. Heat over medium heat and add the eggplants cut side down. Sear until golden and set aside.
- Add the remaining shallots to the skillet and sauté until translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about a minute more.3 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp ginger
- Add the green curry paste and sauté until the oil begins to separate from the paste. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar. Return the eggplant to the skillet and add the lemongrass.1 tbsp green curry paste ****, 1 (400ml, 13.5fl oz) can full-fat coconut milk, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp demerara sugar, 1 stalk lemongrass
- Bring the mixture up to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, turning the eggplant once halfway through. Take the skillet off of the heat and stir in the lime juice.1 lime
- Place two eggplant halves over a serving of jasmine rice. Spoon the curry sauce over top and garnish with scallions, pomegranate arils, and the crispy shallots. Serve immediately.2 cups cooked Jasmine rice, 1 scallion, ¼ cup pomegranate arils