Enjoy this easy and delicious eggplant stir fry with Thai basil and chicken that has full flavors and silky textures in one dish. This spicy eggplant dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!
If you're an eggplant lover, these recipes are for you. Try this easy green curry recipe with Thai eggplant, one of my favorite Thai dishes! Also, a spicy Thai grilled eggplant salad with pork using Chinese or Japanese eggplant. Both are delicious!
Eggplants in Thai cooking
Eggplants are well used in Thai cooking and many Asian foods. There are wide varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes of eggplants in Thailand. The round small green eggplants are popular in Thai curries, salads, and dipping sauces. The long green variety is similar to the Chinese eggplant, which will be used in this recipe. You can find those at most Asian grocery stores.
There are many versions of Thai basil chicken stir fry with eggplants. I've had with ground pork, some with Nam Prik Pao (Thai chili paste), some with red curry paste, and some that are flavored with fish sauce and dark soy sauce with minimal vegetables. My favorite way to make this spicy eggplant dish is with thinly sliced chicken breast with sliced red bell pepper and heaps of fresh Thai basil. A flavor profile similar to Pad Kra Pao, another delicious Thai food dish.
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s easy yet so tasty! The umami flavors of salty and sweet add happiness to your taste buds!
- Most ingredients and substitutes can be found at your local grocery store. (Not the soybean paste, but you can grab one from Amazon here!)
- You can make this dish vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding more vegetables.
- You can make this dish as spicy as you'd like! Add fresh green or red chili, white pepper, jalapenos, or serrano peppers.
- It saves well as leftovers for your following day's meals.
Ingredients for eggplant stir fry with Thai basil and chicken
Eggplants. The recipe calls for Japanese or Chinese eggplants, but you can use large Thai plants from your local grocery store. You can use regular eggplant found in your local grocery store. American, Italian, Globe, or Fairy Tale eggplants work great for this recipe.
Thai Basil. Thai sweet basil adds a pop of flavor to the stir fry. Holy basil works well, too, and adds a unique flavor if you can find some. Substitute Italian basil but add ½ cup extra for the flavor punch.
Chicken. Use any protein of choice. Slice the meat into small, about 1-inch pieces that work well. Ground chicken, turkey, pork, beef, or turkey work great too.
Garlic. Be generous with garlic for extra fragrant and taste
Chilis. Use Thai fresh chilis for extra heat. Use jalapeños, serrano, or bell peppers for the milder version. Chilis are entirely optional for this recipe.
Oil. Use high smoking point oil like avocado, vegetable, canola, or coconut oil. Avoid oil or sesame oil. They don't blend well in this stir-frying recipe.
Vegetable options. Bell peppers, pea pods, purple onion ( in this recipe), green beans, sliced carrots, jalapeños, and shallots.
Soybean paste. Adds extra umami and salty flavors to the recipe
oyster sauce. Add velvety umami flavors. A must for many Thai stir-fries.
Thin soy sauce. Add a salty taste that compliments the soybean and oyster sauce well.
Rice wine vinegar. It balances out the salty and sugar perfectly well. Use unseasoned and no sugar added kind.
Sugar. Use white, palm, or brown sugar. Honey, agave, maple syrup, or any sweeteners work well too.
How To Make Thai eggplant stir fry
Step one. Cut the eggplants into 1x2 inches pieces. In a medium bowl, soak the eggplant slices with water and add 1 teaspoons of salt, and a dash of lemon or lime juice to keep the eggplants from browning. Set aside while making the sauce.
Step Two. In a small bowl, mix the sauces and sugar. Set aside until ready.
Step Three. Add oil to a wok, a large frying pan, or a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chilis, and fry for 30 seconds or less until fragrant but not too browned.
Step Four. Add the chicken, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Stir a few times until the chicken turns a slight golden brown. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the pan if the chicken gets too dry.
Step Five. Add the vegetables (save the basil for last), stir, and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add more water if necessary to loosen up the food from the pan.
Step Six. Drain the eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Add the eggplants and cook for 4-5 minutes until wilt and soft.
Step Seven. Add the sauce, stir and cook for 1 more minute. Adjust seasoning as needed here. Add more soy sauce, sugar, or a light touch of vinegar. Also, add more chilis here if desired.
Step Eight. Add the fresh basil leaves, turn the heat off and serve with cooked jasmine or brown rice. Garnish with sesame seeds and basil, and even add a dash of chili sauce if in need of more heat. Enjoy!
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Expert Tips
- Add up to ½ cup of water to the pan if necessary while cooking the chicken. Each pan, wok, or stove tops cooks differently. Adjust seasoning the more water you use. (Add slightly more)
- soaking the eggplants in cold water and salt for 20 minutes. This step helps soak up the bitterness and helps the eggplants retain the purple color on the skin once cooked.
- You can fry the eggplants separately if you want extra depth of flavors. After cutting and soaking the eggplants, fry, bake, or air fry the eggplants with a touch of oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until lightly brown and set aside until step 4 and cook with the chicken for only 1 minute.
- A non-stick pan or wok tends to work well for this recipe. But use the largest frying pan you have if possible.
Do you cook eggplant with the skin on or off?
The skin on eggplants is edible. However, some variety of eggplants has thicker skin, like Globe, American and Italian eggplants. It’s ok to trim the skin off, especially in the older eggplants where the skin tends to be tougher.
How do I prepare eggplant for cooking?
There are many ways to prepare eggplants, depending on what you make. If grilling, baking, broiling, or air frying, half the eggplants, then lightly sprinkle with salt and brush a light coat of oil on both sides to help prevent it from sticking to the grill or pan. If stir-frying, there is no need for salt or oil.
Why do you soak eggplant before cooking?
Soaking the eggplants in salt and a dash of lemon or lime juice before cooking does two things. One, it prevents the eggplants from oxidation, a form of plant rust that makes particular fruit and vegetables brown once cut and exposed to oxygen. Two, it helps absorb some bitterness off the eggplants once cooked.
More Thai Recipes You’ll Love!
- spicy Thai grilled eggplant salad with pork
- easy green curry recipe
- Thai basil chicken Pad Kra pao
- Thai stir fried Cabbage
- Thai morning glory stir-fried recipe
- Pad Mee Korat
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