This Thai Eggplant Stir Fry is a delicious healthy meal featuring succulent eggplant, your choice of protein, Thai basil, and fresh veggies in a flavorful Thai stir-fry sauce. Vegan-adaptable!
What is Thai Eggplant?
Thai Eggplant is a savory, velvety stir-fry dish with a touch of spiciness from fresh chilis used to add extra heat to the stir fry. The spiciness is entirely optional! The eggplant is sliced into long thin pieces and then stir-fried with a generous amount of garlic, oyster sauce, soybean paste, soy sauce, seasoned with sugar, chilis, and of course, the fragrant Thai basil bringing the dish together.
Protein and vegetable options are flexible, making this dish easy to adapt using your favorite ingredients.
Ingredients in Eggplant with Thai basil
- Eggplants. Use Japanese or Chinese eggplants if you have them. Globe eggplants can be substituted. Check your local farmer’s markets for other varieties.
- Thai Basil. Thai basil is a must for a strong basil flavor to finish the stir fry. Substitute Italian basil.
- Protein. Substitute any protein of your choice! Ground-up tofu, crispy tofu, ground meat, and shrimp work great for this recipe.
- Garlic. Chop garlic small but not minced to keep it from browning too quickly
- Chilis. Chilis are optional. Adapt as needed. For extra spice, add jalapeños, serrano, or Thai chilis.
- Vegetables. These are great options to add to the stir fry. Bell peppers, snap or sweet pea pods, onion, broccolini, baby corn, green beans, or carrots.
- Soybean paste. This adds a deep layer of salty umami flavors to the stir fry. Sub miso paste.
- Oyster sauce. This is where the rich, velvety taste comes from. Sub vegan oyster sauce .
- Soy sauce. Use any soy sauce available. Season with more towards the end if necessary.
- Rice wine vinegar. Apple Cider vinegar, lime, or lemon juice work great too.
- Sugar. Any sweeteners work for this recipe. White, brown, coconut sugar or honey are all great!
How to make Thai Eggplant
Step one: Prep the Egglant.
Cut the eggplant into long, thin pieces about 1-2 inches long, 1/2 inch thick. Soak in a bowl of water for 15-20 minutes with a teaspoon of salt to keep the eggplant from browning and tasting bitter. Set aside.
Step two: Stir-fry Sauce.
Make the sauce by mixing soybean paste, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar and rice wine vinegar. Set aside for later.
Step three: Cook the protein.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook until lightly browned. 7-8 minutes. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen up the pieces in the pan. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate. Wipe the skillet lightly with a paper towel if there are too many burned bits and pieces from the chicken. Or make crispy tofu, or cook shrimp.
Step four: Cook the eggplant.
Drain the soaked eggplants, and pat dry with a paper towel. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, then add the eggplants. Cook until the eggplants are caramelized and tender. Anywhere from 4-7 minutes, depending on the pan you’re using. Add water gradually as needed if the eggplants are browning too fast. Remove from the pan and set aside with the cooked chicken. We will add all these back in the pan in a bit.
Step five: Stir fry!
Swipe the pan with paper towels, then add one tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add garlic, chilis, and onion, and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onion is lightly caramelized. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen up the pieces in the pan. You might start to cough from the chilis being fried. It’s normal! (A badge of honor when making stir-fries in a Thai kitchen!) (: Turn the vent on or open windows for some air circulation.
Add the vegetables (except the basil), stir, and cook for 3-4 more minutes until the vegetables are tender. If using cast iron pans, t they tend to cook everything more quickly because it conducts heat more. If using a non-stick pan, you may not need to add water at all.
Step seven: combine!
Bring the chicken and eggplants back into the pan with the vegetables. Stir well and cook for 2 more minutes.
Step eight: add the sauce.
Add the sauce, stir, and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the flavors with more soy sauce and a dash of sugar and add more chilis for extra heat!
Step nine: add the basil.
Add the basil, stir in well, and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off. The residual heat will continue to cook the basil while not overcooking it. Let it cool for a few minutes.
Serve with rice, cauliflower rice or as a complete meal by itself!
Expert Tips (or FAQS)
Can this be made Vegan?
Yes, this recipe can be made vegan! Use vegan oyster sauce as a substitute. Instead of chicken, try crispy tofu, tempeh, or all vegetables instead of meat.
Ways to Adapt Thai Eggplant
- Add your favorite fresh and crunchy vegetables like bell peppers, banana peppers, asparagus, green beans, bok choy, snow peas, or broccolini.
- Add jalapeños, serrano, and fresh Thai chilis to add some heat!
- Use ground protein instead of sliced protein like ground chicken, turkey, beef, etc.
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I hope you enjoy this recipe! I truly love sharing what I know about making tasty Thai food and bringing a little bit of my Thai culture to your kitchen. Food is a huge part of Thai culture, and we genuinely believe that sharing and eating food with others makes life so much better. I hope this recipe brings great delight to your heart and home!