As I mentioned in last night's post, earlier this week I ventured to Chinatown in NYC and one of the wonderful treasures from my jaunt were Thai eggplant. These unique little berries can be challenging like many other eggplant or aubergine varieties but I have been determined to sex them up a little bit. In previous attempts they were bitter; my goal this time was to remove the bitterness without having to skin them and to create something new that had a delightful punch for such small fruit.
I believe I used to have an allergy to eggplant when I was a child because of the nausea it produced but I have overcome that harsh reaction. Even still, I often just don't care for eggplant but love a good challenge and stick with trying new things.
I won't say last night was the best eggplant dish I've ever had, but it certainly was the best one I have ever made at home. Here's the recipe I composed:
Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish
8 thai eggplant, washed and sliced in half, stems removed
1 pat butter
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 limes juiced and skins cut into quarters
1/4 very ripe mango skins
2 tsp. lime and chilli chutney -- this is an incredible product
1 tsp. thistle honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Wash and slice the eggplant and place them in a baking dish. Add the butter, salt, pepper and olive oil and mix thoroughly in dish to coat each eggplant piece evenly. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Next, remove from the oven and add the lime, lime skins and mango skins. If you don't have the mango skins on hand, I think this would still be good but truly, they added an amazing sweetness and flavor to the dish. (I always save mango skins after peeling them for such uses!) Cover again and return to oven for 15 minutes. Remove the dish again and lastly add the lime chili chutney and honey and fold in to completely coat and mix the ingredients in the dish. Return to oven and bake for final 10 minutes. Remove and test to make sure eggplant are soft and delicate and skins are tender. Serve as is as an appetizer or side dish or combine with a creamy rice.
There was still a slight bitterness to the result but it was spicy and sweet enough that it wasn't too overwhelming. However, I did serve this to three others. Two loved it and one thought it was good but too bitter. So, this depends on your palate and penchant for bold flavors.