Eggplant Dip

eggplant dip

From Thailand

This tasty roasted eggplant dip follows a traditional Thai recipe and benefits greatly from the lime, cilantro, and chili paste. The dip can be used with raw vegetable sticks, crispy rice cakes, pita bread, or any whole wheat crackers you prefer.

Serves: 10 - 12 / Ready in: 1 hr

Great for: heart healthy, low cholesterol, healthy snack, vegan

Ingredients for eggplant dip:

1 large eggplant, about 1 1/4 lbs

1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon, freshly squeezed

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 small handful fresh whole cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon roasted chili paste (see below)

Ingredients for roasted chili paste:

1/2 cup small dried red chilies, stemmed and halved crosswise

1/2 cup shallots, peeled and cut lengthwise into chunks

8-10 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup sesame oil

3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses or brown sugar

3 tablespoons tamarind liquid

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

Directions for roasted chili paste:

In a wok or heavy skillet, dry-fry the chilies over medium heat until dark, fragrant, and brittle for 3-5 minutes. Stir frequently as you roast. Remove from heat and transfer them to a plate to cool.

Increase the heat of the wok and dry-fry the shallots and garlic until they are soft and wilted, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer them to a plate to cool.

Shake and discard most of the chili seeds, then crumble them into small pieces. Chop the shallots and garlic coarsely. Combine them all in a food processor and pulse to a coarse paste. Scrape down the sides of the processor occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of sesame oil and grind to a fairly smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Pour the remaining oil into the wok and heat to medium heat. After about 1 minute, add a bit of the chili paste to make sure it sizzles. Then add all the chili paste and cook while stirring for about 5 minutes until darker and fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Combine syrup or sugar, tamarind, and soy sauce in a small bowl and stir well. Add this mix to the cooled chili paste and combine. Note that the paste for this eggplant dip may be oily, so it must be stirred well before each use.

Directions for eggplant dip:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Stem the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise, then place it on the baking sheet, cut side down.

Bake until the flesh is soft and the purple skin is dark, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Scoop out the eggplant flesh and place into a food processor. Add sugar and soy sauce, roasted chili paste, and lime or lemon juice. Using pulses, process to a thick coarse puree of the eggplant dip, and stop to scrape down the sides as needed.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chipped cilantro and green onions. Garnish the eggplant dip with cilantro leaves and serve with raw vegetable sticks or rice crackers.