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Midsummer mania: It's time for the eggplant's turn in the spotlight

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on


For the eggplant mixture:

1 large globe eggplant, or 4 Chinese eggplants

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced white onion

1/2 cup (60 mL) peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomato

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon cumin powder

1/2 tablespoon coriander powder

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon Thai basil leaves, or regular basil leaves, cut crosswise into thin strips

For the shrimp:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh basil leaves, cut crosswise into thin strips, for garnish

First, make the sauce: In a medium saucepan over high heat, heat the oil. Add the ginger, lemongrass and galangal; stir-fry until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles and stir-fry another 30 seconds. Add the cumin, paprika, curry paste and tomato. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping to deglaze the pan deposits.

Reduce the heat; stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, lime leaves and basil. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and leave to steep for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the eggplant: Preheat a grill or broiler. With a fork, poke the eggplant several times all over. Rub with 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Grill or broil, turning regularly, until completely tender. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut in half and scoop out the pulp onto a cutting board; coarsely chop the pulp, transferring to a bowl, and discard the skin.

In a medium saute pan, heat the remaining peanut oil and the butter over medium heat; saute the jalapeno, garlic, ginger and onion until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant, tomato, sugar, cumin and coriander. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and basil. Cover and keep warm.

Strain the sauce and gently rewarm it over medium heat.

For the shrimp, in a large saute pan over high heat, combine the oil and butter. Saute the shrimp until just pink, 3 to 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the eggplant among four serving plates. Arrange the shrimp on top and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.



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