Crispy Eggplant with Coconut Curry Vegetables

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Crispy Eggplant
1 cup flour plus additional for dusting eggplant
1 cup water
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, (brown preferred)
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sesame oil
sea salt
2 ounces cellophane noodles, (also known as mung bean or harusame)
vegetable oil for frying
1 large eggplant, (1 pound) stemmed and sliced into 1/3 inch thick rounds
Coconut Curry Vegetables
1 large sweet red onion, cut into wedge shape (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons peeled, slivered garlic
2 large red bell peppers, (12 ounces) stemmed, seeded and sliced lengthwise
1 poblano pepper, (4-5 ounces) stemmed, seeded and sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile, (or to taste)
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon good quality curry powder, (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup rich vegetable stock
3 tablespoons golden raisins or dried currants
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint or a combination

Garnish: Steamed basmati or jasmine rice, thick banana slices which have been dusted with cornstarch then quickly fried in vegetable oil, cilantro and/or mint sprigs and lightly toasted slivered almonds or whole cashews, if desired

For the eggplant: In a bowl whisk the flour, water, egg yolk, vinegar, sesame oil and 2 teaspoons salt until smooth. Separate cellophane noodles and cut into 1-inch lengths with scissors. Spread out on a plate and set aside. Heat 1/3 inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan until shimmering (350 degrees on a deep fry thermometer). Lightly dust the eggplant slices with flour and then dip into the batter to coat well. Press coated slices onto noodles to coat as evenly as possible. Place slices in a single layer in hot oil and fry on both sides until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

For the coconut curry vegetables: In a large sauté pan, sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat until just beginning to soften but not brown. Add the peppers, chile and ginger and continue to sauté for 3-4 minutes longer or until the peppers are crisp-tender. Add the curry, coconut milk, stock and raisins and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Stir in chopped cilantro and mint and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately with steamed basmati rice, fried banana slices and sprigs of cilantro and mint. Top with toasted almonds or cashews, if desired.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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