Thai Beef Eggplant Salad

If someone told you to eat eggplant because it's good for you, what would you do with it? I've tried regular globe eggplant and it just doesn't taste that good to me. I've tried frying it, stuffing it, dicing it and adding it to casseroles and it has always fallen a bit short of my expectations.

In my Thai cooking class, we made this dish using the thin Japanese eggplants. I've never eaten those before. And believe me, I was skeptical because my past eggplant experience was sketchy.

But we made it, we all ate it and I was in utter disbelief! Eggplant that really tasted good! Even my husband liked it and he doesn't like regular eggplant at all. OMG! This is now one of my new favorite recipes. I even shared it with Grandma Rose.

Pla Nuea Makreua Orn
3 small Japanese eggplants
canola oil for frying
1 lb beef tenderloin (same as filet mignon)
1 Tablespoon sliced shallots
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
juice of one lime
2 - 5 bird's-eye chilis
ground black pepper

1. Slice the eggplant into thin rounds, about 1/4 inch thick. Fry in the hot oil until both sides are golden brown to your liking. Eggplant will absorb the oil, so don't overfill the pan with oil to start, just about 1 or 2 Tablespoons. Don't be shy to add more oil as they cook. I like to drizzle it in on the hot side then tilt and swirl the pan to distribute it. Transfer cooked slices to your serving bowl.

2. Slice your beef to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.  Season both sides generously with black pepper and salt.

3. Once all the eggplant slices have been cooked, add a little more oil to the pan and get it hot enough so it sizzles when the meat is added.  Quickly fry the beef on both sides, only about 2-3 minutes on each side.  You want it to stay a little rare and tender.

4. Transfer the cooked beef to a cutting board and slice into strips. Add sliced beef to the bowl of eggplant.

5. Add a tiny bit of oil to the pan if it's dry, maybe only a teaspoon, and add the shallots. Stir just to wilt the shallots and absorb some of the beefy residue from the pan.  Add this to the bowl of eggplant and beef. 

6.  Slice the chili peppers into tiny thin rounds, keeping the seeds.  If you like this very mild, use only 2 chilis, for little more heat, use more, up to 5 chilis.

7. Prepare your dressing of fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the chilis. Drizzle over the eggplant and beef mixture.  Toss well.

8. You can let this dish rest while you  prepare others because it's delicious hot or at room temperature.


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