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Thai Spicy Eggplant Recipe (Pad Eggplant)

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Thai spicy eggplant recipe is the perfect choice for a vegetable-rich, healthy weeknight dinner. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat lover, this dish works both ways. You can pair it with a protein of your choice, and serve with a batch of white rice. Enjoy a simple stir-fry with a delightful blend of fish sauce, oyster sauce, and other traditional Asian ingredients.

Thai spicy eggplant stir-fry with minced chicken and chilies in a white dish, accompanied by a wooden fork and spoon. The dish is presented on top of a banana leaf that also has flowers at the top.

After making this, try one of my other Thai vegetable stir-fry recipes: Thai cabbage stir-fry with fish sauce, Thai vegetables stir-fry, and vegetarian fried cabbage recipe!

Pad eggplant

This spicy eggplant stir-fry comes together quickly. It’s an easy-to-make, flavorful side-dish that can also be enjoyed as a light and fulfilling dinner. If you’re in the mood for a popular Thai dish that can be made without too much hassle and cleanup, this is the perfect option. As for me, I’m always up for a quick weeknight meal or a relaxing night in.

If you’re a fan of Thai food, you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen pantry. The ingredients used in this recipe perfectly blend together to create a vegetable dish with a perfect balance of spicy, salty, and slightly sweet flavors.

Spicy eggplant stir-fry presented in a white dish.

Thai spicy eggplant recipe

Asian dishes are known for their bold and amazing flavors, and this Asian spicy eggplant recipe is no different.

First, the eggplants are cut into bite-sized pieces, after which they’re put into a bath of salted water. This improves their texture, and removes bitterness. The salt draws out some of the moisture, which makes the veggies slightly firmer when cooked, and less spongy. Additionally, putting them in water and salt prevents them from turning brown while you’re prepping the rest of the food.

Fresh chili peppers and garlic are the base of many Thai meals. When pounded with a mortar and pestle, they turn into a flavor-packed chili-garlic paste that can be used as a starting point for countless Thai recipes. For this eggplant dish, there’s no need to pound them, instead you can simply cut them into small chunks.

Stir-fried eggplants with chilies and chicken in a white dish.

A neutral oil is heated in a wok pan, to which the chili-garlic base gets added. While this is frying, you can already smell the aromas of the chilies and garlic. Make sure not to overcook the garlic, it should be golden. At this point, you can add protein if you want to. (Minced) chicken, beef, pork, or seafood, anything works in this recipe.

Next, we’ll add a bit of water, along with the eggplants. The water will help the vegetables become soft, and prevent them burning. Then, we’ll cover the pan with a lid, so the veggies can continue to cook soft.

A wooden fork is lifting a piece of eggplant with basil. Underneath it is a dish with Asian spicy eggplant stir-fry.

A mix of soybean paste, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar deliciously infuses this dish with authentic Thai flavors.

Lastly, we’ll sprinkle a generous amount of Thai basil on top, which add freshness and aroma.

Spicy Basil Eggplant

Thai basil, a key ingredient in Thai cuisine, is loved for its sweet and slightly spicy taste.

Hand plucking Thai basil.

This essential herb adds a burst of flavor to our eggplant stir-fry. It’s a staple in Thailand and frequently added in our delightful Thai green curry and comforting noodle soups.

The tender eggplants, stir-fried to perfection, combined with the bold flavor of fragrant Thai basil is like culinary magic.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, soybean paste, sliced chilies and garlic in plastic cups. Thai basil, white sugar, and minced chicken in clay cups, and pieces of eggplants in water in a bowl.
  • Minced chicken – I used a skin-on chicken fillet, finely chopped with a butcher’s knife. I like the additional flavor the skin brings.
  • Long eggplants – Also known as Asian or Chinese eggplants, they’re ideal for stir-frying since they have a mild flavor and absorb the flavors of the ingredients well.
  • Thai basil – Aromatic herbs with a sweet and slightly peppery flavor.
  • Chilies – I used Thai chili peppers (jinda chilies – prik sod – พริกจินดา). They’re pretty spicy, so feel free to sub with a milder type of pepper if that’s what you prefer.
  • Oyster sauce – Oyster sauce adds umami and a salty flavor to the stir-fry.
  • Dark soy sauce – Dark soy sauce is often added to dishes for giving them a beautiful darker color, and to enhance the overall flavor.
  • Soybean paste – Made from fermented soybeans, adds a savory flavor.
  • White sugar
  • Garlic

How to make stir-fried eggplants

  1. Bite-sized pieces of Chinese eggplants resting in a bowl of water.

    Step 1: Slice the eggplants into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl filled with water.

  2. Top-down view of fried garlic and chili slices in a wok.

    Step 2: Preheat a wok or skillet over medium heat, then add oil. Toss in the chilies and garlic, cooking until fragrant for approx 20 seconds.

  3. Cooking minced chicken, garlic, and sliced chilies in a wok.

    Step 3: Next, add the minced chicken to the wok or skillet and cook until it is fully cooked through.

  4. Minced chicken cooked with Thai sauces.

    Step 4: Add sauces & seasonings (oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, soybean paste, and white sugar) and thoroughly mix.

  5. Close-up of eggplants with minced chicken in a wok.

    Step 5: Add the sliced eggplants into the pan and continue cooking until they reach your desired level of softness. You can cover the wok with a lid to help them soften. Remember to stir-fry occasionally to avoid burning.

  6. Top-down view of stir-fried eggplants and minced chicken in a wok.

    Step 6: Lastly, add Thai basil and toss it into the mix. Remove the pan from heat and serve your pad eggplant immediately.

How to serve eggplant stir-fry

The stir-fried eggplants can be served with a generous scoop of steamed jasmine rice for dinner. A portion of rice is great for balancing out the spiciness. You can serve it as a part of a larger meal as well, combined with other side-dishes or fresh vegetables.

Garnish with chopped red chili peppers if you like spice. Alternatively, you can serve with Thai chili flakes or prik nam pla, a spicy chili fish sauce.

How to store

After your meal has cooled down to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and keep it in your refrigerator. It will last up to 3–4 days.

To reheat: Simply use a wok or non-stick skillet over medium heat. If needed, use a small amount of oil or a splash of water.

To freeze: Transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag and store for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.

Frequently asked questions

What eggplants are good for a stir-fry?

The traditional recipe for Thai stir-fried eggplants calls for Asian eggplants. However, you can use other types as well, such as globe eggplants or Italian eggplants. You can use any type you wish. For tender and cooked through eggplants, make sure to adjust the cooking time if needed.

Can I use regular basil?

Yes, you can substitute Thai basil for regular basil. Their flavors are different, but regular basil also adds a fresh taste to this dish. The flavor outcome will differ from using Thai basil, but it should still be delicious.

Can I make this ahead of time?

If you want to make this in advance, I suggest cooking it and simply reheating it on the stove top when you’re ready to eat.

Is this recipe suited for vegetarians or vegans?

You can turn this into a vegan recipe by omitting the chicken and substituting the fish sauce with vegan fish sauce, and the oyster sauce with mushroom sauce.

Can I make this less spicy?

Yes, you can easily make this meal less spicy by using a mild type of chili peppers such as Spanish peppers, using fewer chilies, or removing their seeds. The seeds are where most of the spicy flavor is located. If you’re having this meal with kids, I suggest omitting the chilies altogether.

Can you put eggplant in a stir-fry?

Yes, eggplants are a great vegetable to put in a stir-fry. They’re tender and absorb flavors of the other ingredients very well. This recipe for Thai eggplant stir-fry shows you how to cook them to perfection, with delicious Asian flavors and ingredients.

More Thai vegetable recipes you’ll love

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Thai Spicy Eggplant Recipe (Pad Eggplant)

Thai spicy eggplant stir-fry with minced chicken and chilies in a white dish, accompanied by a wooden fork and spoon. The dish is presented on top of a banana leaf that also has flowers at the top.
This recipe for Thai spicy eggplant comes together quickly in a wok or skillet.
Praew
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 chilies chopped, Thai chilies
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 7 ounces chicken minced
  • 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoon soybean paste
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 long eggplants cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil

Instructions

  • Slice the eggplants into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl filled with water.
  • Preheat a wok or skillet over medium heat, then add oil. Toss in the chilies and garlic, cooking until fragrant for approx 20 seconds.
  • Next, add the minced chicken to the wok or skillet and cook until it is fully cooked through.
  • Add sauces & seasonings (oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, soybean paste, and white sugar) and thoroughly mix.
  • Add the sliced eggplants into the pan and continue cooking until they reach your desired level of softness. You can cover the wok with a lid to help them soften. Remember to stir-fry occasionally to avoid burning.
  • Lastly, add Thai basil and toss it into the mix. Remove the pan from heat and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Garnish with chopped chili peppers or Thai chili flakes for extra spice.
  • Serve with white rice or with other Thai food.

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