№ 92 - Stir Fry with Eggplant, Long Beans, Ground Beef and Thai Basil
This is a Thai-style stir fry that's easy but flavorful - perfect for bringing a little variety into your summer cooking. Thai cuisine traditionally uses nam pla (fish sauce) but for the sake of simplifying my pantry, I substitute it with another fermented fish that I always keep in stock: anchovies. In case you're worried, the fishiness disappears in the finished stir fry, but the anchovies (or nam pla) give the dish its depth and an appetizing, well-rounded flavor profile.
Long beans are my first choice here because they maintain their nutty bite a bit longer and maybe because they just seem like a better tropical fit. However, you can easily use green beans or even Romano beans instead.
The suggested amount of chili makes the dish reasonably, but not overwhelmingly, spicy.
2 lbs eggplants
1 lb ground beef
1 bunch Thai basil (3-4 cups picked)
5 garlic cloves
6 oil-packed anchovy filets or 3 salt-packed anchovies
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp canola or other neutral tasting oil
2 cups white or, less traditionally, brown jasmine rice
Fine sea salt to taste
Cook rice according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, remove the spines from any salt-packed anchovies and soak them in water for 5 mins (this isn't necessary for oil-packed anchovies, which are already filleted). Trim the ends off the long beans and chop into 2 inch pieces. Pick the basil leaves. Trim and dice the eggplants into ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes. Slice the chilis (if using) into very thin slices or strips. Peel and slice the garlic thinly.
Heat a large lidded frying pan or pot over medium-high heat, coat the pan with 3 Tbps of canola oil and fry the garlic, anchovies and chili until the garlic just begins to brown, about 60 seconds. Add the beef, break it up in the pan and stir. Add the eggplants along with 1¼ cups water and some salt, bring to a boil quickly and turn the heat back down to medium high. Cover and cook for 2 minutes before adding the green beans. Cook for another 3 minutes and stir in the sugar and Thai basil leaves. Taste for salt and add as needed. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until just before the eggplants have lost the last of their sponginess (they will continue to cook a little bit off the heat). Remove from the heat and serve on rice bowls.