I think eggplant is the shizznit of the veggie world. I mean seriously, can you think of a more awesome veggie? Butternut squash is probably close but I’m not sure it can take the crown.
Anyway, we make pad thai almost every week, and usually I stick to the typical random mixed frozen veggies. But today I thought I should try out some of my favorite purple veggie, the eggplant. It was FLIPPIN delicious!!! The pictures don’t do my tastebuds justice. If you like pad thai but generally find yourself screwed to find a veggie version in a restaurant, do try this. The sauce is a work in progress but it seems to taste better every time I make it.
Soak 8-9oz of rice noodles in hot water for 30-60 minutes. Refer to package for appropriate time if needed.
Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes to extract the bitter juices and then rinse. Cut the eggplant into small chunks. I used about 3/5 to 3/4 of a smallish eggplant. There was more eggplant than noodles (as I only had about half of the noodles) but that’s how I like it.
Heat some oil in a wok or large skillet on medium-high to high heat. Once hot, add the eggplant and cook for about 45 seconds. Add noodles, baby spinach (if using), and sauce (below). Mix well and fry it up for a minute or two until everything seems well coated and somewhat glossy (you don’t want the sauce to be runny). Transfer to a plate and try not to burn your mouth since you won’t be able to wait until it cools!
For da sauce:
1/4 C tamarind concentrate
1/2 C H2O
1-2 T turbinado sugar
1 big heaping table spoon (like the kind you would eat soup with) of peanut butter – use chunky if you like the peanut pieces
1 T fish sauce (or oyster flavored sauce to make it vegan)
1 T rice vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 T lime or lemon juice (both taste good so whatever your preference)
1/2 T garlic powder (or 1-2 cloves)
1/2 T onion powder (or 1/2 onion)
1/2 T chili paste (I use this stuff)
If you’re using actual onion and garlic, saute them over medium heat for a few minutes until they become soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until mixed through. I typically do it this way but lately I’ve realized that onion likes to hold a grudge against me so I’ve been using powder.
If you’re using onion and garlic powder, just mix everything together and nuke it for about 40 seconds so the PB dissolves.
*Makes about 1&1/2 C of sauce, enough for about 8-9oz of noodles plus veggies (or chicken if you swing that way).