Eggplant. My heart lifts at the pretty sight of them in my CSA box because I think they are beautiful. But then it plummets when I remember that I don’t like them very much, and that even so, I love them compared to the rest of my household. But, part of the challenge with these weekly farm boxes is getting creative and finding recipes that we like despite ingredients that, sometimes, are not our favorites.
So. I decided to use recipes we like as a launching point and just work in some eggplant. Some made their way into Freaking Awesome Quinoa Burgers (largely unnoticed by the masses), and I made a huge pan of Eggplant Parmesan, since that has been our one true eggplant recipe success thus far. Although others ate some without complaint, I’ll admit to eating the majority of that pan by myself over the course of several days. Still my favorite eggplant recipe, and it’s a good one.
While wracking my brain for something new and exciting to do with eggplant, I remembered a Thai cooking class I took a while back where we made green curry with eggplant. We all love Thai food so I thought that would be the perfect thing to try. The homemade green curry paste is the star of this dish and just about anything you throw in with it is going to be delicious, even the dreaded aubergine. The other great thing about this recipe is that it is delicious with or without the eggplant. If you absolutely don’t like it, just leave it out and double up on the mushrooms instead. Personally, I think they both have a similar texture when cooked, and they both really absorb the flavor of the sauce, so I liked it just fine with the eggplant. I also threw in some shrimp just for the heck of it. This was a winner (although yes, I found a few eggplant chunks left at the bottom of Claire’s bowl. I’ll keep working on it).
Thanks to my most recent box, I already have another one of these suckers to cook. Any ideas?
Green Curry with Shrimp, Eggplant and Mushrooms
(Slightly adapted from Hipcooks)
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 thumb-sized piece galangal (or sub ginger), peeled and chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped lemongrass
3 lime leaves, stems removed
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves removed from stems, reserve both parts
2 small shallots (or 1/2 red onion)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. shrimp paste (or sub fish sauce)
1 thumb-sized piece fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp. dried)
5-6 thai green chiles (or more or less to taste)
1 large bunch Thai basil, stems removed
Juice from 1/2 lime
3-6 tbsp. fish sauce
2-4 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (or chicken, or just leave out the meat)
2 Thai or Japanese eggplants (I used Thai eggplants, but any kind will work, although I think the texture of the smaller ones are nice), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 can coconut milk
Additional lime juice, brown sugar, or fish sauce to taste
Make the curry paste: Toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. I do this in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Grind the spices in a food processor or spice grinder. Add the galangal, lemongrass, 2 lime leaves, cilantro stems, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, turmeric, chilies, and most of the Thai basil, reserving some for garnish. Puree until smooth. Add the lime juice and 3 tbsp. of fish sauce to start. You may need to add a tablespoon or two or grapeseed oil to encourage a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the flavorings as needed – more salt from the fish sauce, more sour from the lime, more spice from the chilies. This will make enough paste for this and probably at least one other meal (it freezes great).
Add a bit of olive oil or grapeseed oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp, eggplant and mushrooms. Stir fry until shrimp start to turn pink. Add one can of coconut milk, bring to a boil, then lower heat. Stir in the green curry paste, a little at a time, until you’ve reached your desired color and taste. Simmer until veggies are soft. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of sugar, lime or fish sauce to adjust the sweet, sour and salty levels to your taste. Just before serving, garnish with reserved cilantro and Thai basil, and a finely sliced lime leaf, if desired.
Serve with rice to soak up that lovely sauce.