Do you love eggplant? Chances are, unless you grew up eating it, it’s not a vegetable that you reach for at the store. It’s big and purple, and often when you see a recipe for it, it involves lots of salting and waiting for the flesh to give up its “bitter” juices. That doesn’t make it sound all that fun.
Eggplant Nam Prik Has It All
I promise you, this recipe involves no salting, no bitter juices, and a deep, smoky flavor. That’s because you’re going to do the two processes that really bring out the appeal of eggplant: Charring and Roasting.
This recipe is one I’ve made for years, that I adapted from one by Vatcharin Bhumichitr, whose Thai Vegetarian Cookbook changed my life. Way back then, there were not many Thai cookbooks, and to find a vegetarian one was like finding a Faberge Egg. Over the years, I changed it, to use an easy to find globe eggplant instead of a few slender Asian eggplants, and I added the oven, so I could roast the charred vegetables to melting tenderness. I roast the garlic and shallots for the same reason, and to avoid burning them too much.
Plants Dipped in Plants
Nam Prik (or Phrik) is a dish with many many faces in its country of origin. Eggplant Nam Prik is a version of the Nam Prik Kapi of Central Thailand. It always contains chilies, but beyond that, the heat might be carried on a base of vegetables, fruits, nuts, even seafood. The classic balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet makes the puree into a tasty dip. In this version, I skipped the fermented shrimp and fish sauce, in favor of a simple dash of tamari.
Once you make this versatile sauce, you will find yourself eating it with all sorts of things. The original recipe calls for broccoli and cauliflower, but don’t stop there. A bowl of rice, a leftover baked sweet potato or even some crackers are great conveyances for Eggplant Nam Prik. Heck, if you use it as you would your fave salsa and dip chips or top nachos, it will be a cross cultural flavor explosion.
Eggplant Nam Prik on a Bagel
Yes, I’ll admit, when I opened that fridge looking for something to schmear, the tub of hot and smoky Eggplant Nam Prik looked like a perfect candidate. In a wrap, or on the side with some Pad Thai, you can’t really go wrong.
Whether you already love eggplant, or are a little bit skeptical, this one will win you over!
Thai Eggplant Nam Prik
- 1 bulb garlic peeled
- 2 large shallot sliced
- 3 large jalapeno or other chilies
- 1 medium globe eggplant
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 bunch broccoli cut in large florets
- 1/2 small cauliflower cut in large florets
- 1/2 small daikon sliced
- In a large piece of foil, make a packet of the peeled garlic and shallots. Drizzle with a teaspoon of oil and seal tightly. Roast at 425 F for 40 minutes, shaking a couple times to stir.
- Over flames or under broiler blacken eggplant and jalapeno until the skin is completely charred, then quickly put in a small casserole with a lid and cover tightly. Bake it for 20 minutes.
- Let everything cool completely. Scrape the blackened skins off the eggplants and jalapenos, and seed the jalapenos. Put in the processor with the garlic and shallots and puree. Add tamari starting with less if you are unsure, and lime juice. Puree and taste, adjusting with more tamari or salt.
- Serve at room temperature with dippers.