Thai cuisine makes the most of eggplant with varieties such as apple and pea. They take centrestage in this fragrant dish.
- 150 g boneless, skinless snapper fillets, cut into 5 cm pieces
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1½ tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra, to deep-fry
- 2 apple eggplants (see Note), quartered
- 5 pea eggplants (see Note)
- 3-cm piece ginger, peeled, thinly shredded
- 3 fresh green peppercorns stems (see Note) or 1 tbsp pickled green peppercorns (see Note)
- 1 king brown mushroom, thinly sliced
- 1 snake bean, cut into 3c m pieces
- 2 kaffir limes leaves (see Note)
- 1 long red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- ½ cup holy basil (see Note) or basil leaves
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) chicken stock
- 5 red bird’s-eye chillies, roughly chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 6-cm piece galangal (see Note), peeled, sliced
- 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, sliced
- 3 cm piece ginger, peeled, sliced
- 10 black peppercorns
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make curry paste, place all ingredients in a mortar and pestle or small food processor and grind to a paste.
Dust fish with flour, shaking off excess. Fill a wok or saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Add fish and cook, turning, for 3 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and set aside.
Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a separate wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Increase heat to high and add eggplants, ginger, peppercorns, mushroom, snake bean, kaffir lime leaves and chilli, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.
Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Add fish and cook for 2 minutes or until warmed through. Serve immediately.
• Pickled green peppercorns are from delis.
• Apple eggplants, pea eggplants, fresh green peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves, holy basil and galangal are available from Thai food shops.
Photography by Brett Stevens
As seen in Feast magazine, Apr 2014, Issue 30.