Spicy Eggplant with Red Bell Pepper and Thai Basil

Thai Eggplant

Every so often I stumble upon a food blog post  in which the author is trying to persuade his or her readers into “trying eggplant again”, with the underlying assumption that a lot of folks have tried eggplant and not liked it.  Really?  I guess I’ve always assumed that everybody was fully on board the eggplant train.

Granted the eggplant was likely well hidden under a heavy blanket of tomato sauce, bread crumbs and cheese, but I’m pretty sure that I fell for eggplant on my first try.   I have a feeling that eggplant Parmesan was the gateway eggplant dish for many of us.

Thai Eggplant

Thai Eggplant

I think what I love most about eggplant is its versatility.  It’s equally capable of stepping up to be star of the show as it is of fading into the background.  In this quick and healthy Thai dish, eggplant is sauteed with red bell peppers in a spicy and sweet fish sauce-based sauce.  A couple handfuls of Thai basil keeps the dish tasting fresh instead of heavy.

If you’re a fan of Vietnamese claypot dishes, this should be right up your alley.  And while I liked the look of the eggplant wedges and red bell pepper strips best,  if you’re really in a hurry, feel free to dice both the eggplant and bell pepper to help speed the cooking along.

Thai Eggplant 4


Spicy Eggplant with Red Bell Pepper and Thai Basil

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


* 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons oil, divided
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 red Jalapeno peppers, minced
* 4-5 Japanese eggplants, cut into 3-4" wedges
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
* 1/4 cup fish sauce
* 1 Tablespoon palm sugar (can substitute regular sugar)
* 1 cup water
* 40 Thai basil leaves


Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a wok or very wide, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and Jalapeno peppers and cook, until softened. Add the red bell pepper and cook, for one minute. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil and the eggplant and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fish sauce, palm sugar and water and let the mixture come to a boil and then continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. If you'd like your eggplant extra soft, add more water and continue to cook until the eggplant reaches your desired texture. Add the basil leaves and give everything a quick stir. Remove from heat and serve.

Adapted from Simply Thai Cooking by Wandee Young & Byron Ayanoglu

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9 Responses to “Spicy Eggplant with Red Bell Pepper and Thai Basil”

  1. #
    Eileen — October 3, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Well, I certainly know some people who are on the no eggplant train due to bad experiences with bbq eggplant as children..but I LOVE it. This sounds like the best possible lunch!


    • Cate — October 5th, 2013 @ 9:41 am

      Eek! I can kinda see where BBQ eggplant could make a turn for the worse… definitely not the same introduction to eggplant as eggplant parm! :)


  2. #
    Mindy — October 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Eggplant Parm, the gateway drug. I love it. It WAS mine, and at this point in my life, I’ll eat it any ol’ way I can get it. I’m all over this one. We had Eggplant sammies two nights ago for dinner (from the garden!!!) and they were heaven on bread.


  3. #
    Sadie — October 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Huge eggplant fan here! This sounds delicious…I’m intrigued by the eggplant/fish sauce/basil combo. It’s on the ‘to make’ list! Thanks for sharing!


    • Cate — October 5th, 2013 @ 9:39 am

      Hope you like it Sadie :)


  4. #
    Ashleigh — October 25, 2013 at 4:59 am

    This looks delicious. Cant wait to make. It seems like a lot of oil. Can you cut some of it out or does the eggplant really need it?


    • Cate — October 28th, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

      Thanks Ashleigh. And yes, eggplant soaks up a lot of oil. You can probably get away with using a couple Tablespoons less if you add a bit of liquid to keep it from getting too dry while cooking. Good luck and hope you like it :)


  5. #
    Sarah C. — July 18, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Loved this recipe. I made it for dinner last night and just finished the leftovers for lunch. I liked it so much I linked to it! http://www.homestead-ish.blogspot.com/weeklymenus

    Thanks so much for posting this!


    • Cate — October 4th, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

      So glad you liked it Sarah! And thanks for the link :)


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